Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Accelerating the medicines revolution outline: small grants

Apply for funding to revolutionise the development of future medicines. We will fund a diverse portfolio of feasibility studies and translational projects, contributing to solving bottlenecks from discovery to deployment. Proposals can include feasibility studies to test new ideas or translational projects to maximise the impact of prior research. They must be high risk, with potential for high reward.

We encourage interdisciplinary projects and you must consider manufacturability from the outset.

The full economic cost (FEC) of your project can be up to £187,500. EPSRC will fund 80% FEC (£150,000).

Projects can last up to two years.

Who can apply

Standard EPSRC eligibility rules apply. Research grants are open to:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UKRI approved independent research organisations
  • eligible public sector research establishments
  • eligible Research and Technology organisations
  • NHS bodies with research capacity.

Check if your institution is eligible for funding.

You can apply if you are a resident in the UK and meet at least one of the conditions below:

  • are employed at the submitting research organisation at a level equivalent to lecturer or above
  • hold a fixed-term contract that extends beyond the duration of the proposed project, and the host research organisation is prepared to give you all the support normal for a permanent employee
  • hold an EPSRC, Royal Society or Royal Academy of Engineering fellowship aimed at later career stages
  • hold fellowships under other schemes (please contact EPSRC to check eligibility, which is considered on a case-by-case basis).

Holders of postdoctoral level fellowships are not eligible to apply for an EPSRC grant.

Collaboration is strongly encouraged between researchers at different stages of the medicines pipeline.

What we're looking for


We are seeking high quality research ideas that will address key bottlenecks in the medicines manufacturing pipeline. From discovery to deployment, proposals will facilitate a revolution through speculative, high risk ideas that could potentially offer high reward.

Applicants are advised to strongly consider whether their research or translational idea is truly speculative, high risk and could potentially offer high reward before applying.

Objectives of the opportunity

We expect the studies funded to contribute to one or more of the following objectives:

  • Explore the viability of more speculative translational pathways for medicines manufacturing
  • Develop novel approaches or fundamental basis for more sustainable pathways
  • Investigate disruptive approaches to reduce time from discovery to deployment
  • Ensure manufacturability, including scale-up and the needs of users, is considered from the outset of the process of new medicines discovery
  • Create the EPS knowledge, skills and workforce to take forward future biological breakthroughs
  • Cover research in any part of the pipeline from innovative chemistry to novel manufacturing techniques, including multidisciplinary work where appropriate.

Proposals must incorporate one or more of the below themes into the wider application


We are looking for proposals to incorporate one or more of the below themes into the wider application:

New modalities

Sustainable solutions to scale up production of new modalities.

Technologies to consider scale up of new modalities at the outset of drug design.


Techniques to improve understanding at drug screening to ensure higher success rates for scale up.

Analytical Capability

Analytical techniques for new modalities to predict performance in the clinic, discovery, or manufacturing scale up.

We expect environmental sustainability to be a core consideration in projects.

EPSRC will reject proposals that do not fall within the opportunity scope. Ideas must be primarily within EPSRC’s remit.

Proposals related to vaccine research are not in scope of this call.

Funding Available

We will fund up to 80% FEC. Your organisation must agree to find the balance. In this opportunity, the EPSRC contribution may be up to £150,000 for each project or study.

Another linked opportunity which will fund research projects up to £2 million is running in parallel. There is a combined total EPSRC contribution of £12.5 million for both streams.

EPSRC reserve the right to manage allocated funding between this and the linked research grants call.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for EPSRC funding.

Start date:

Grants may start from 4 April 2024

Grant Duration:

Two years from start date.


Equipment over £10,000 in value (incl. VAT) is not available through this call. Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be in the Directly Incurred – Other Costs heading.

EPSRC approach to equipment funding.

Responsible innovation

You are expected to work within the EPSRC framework for responsible innovation.

International collaboration

Applicants planning to include international collaborators on their proposal should visit Trusted Research for guidance on getting the most out of international collaboration while protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.

How to apply

Expression of interest (EOI)

To help EPSRC plan for this funding opportunity, you asked to submit an EOI by 30 June 2023 at 4:00pm UK time.

Complete your EOI.

You will be asked to provide:

  • name of the principal investigator
  • host organisation of the principal investigator
  • email address of the principal investigator
  • name of any co-investigators
  • host organisations of any co-investigators
  • proposed title of the research idea
  • acknowledgement that your organisation’s research office is aware of your EOI to this funding opportunity

The above information (investigator details, research area, title) can change prior to submission of the outline proposal.

You must apply using Je-S

You can find advice on completing your application in:

We recommend you start your application early.

Your host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance.

Submitting your application

Before starting an application, you will need to log in or create an account in Je-S.

When applying:

  1. Select ‘documents’, then ‘new document’.
  2. Select ‘call search’.
  3. To find the opportunity, search for: EPSRC Accelerating the Medicines Revolution Outline Small Grants

This will populate:

  • council: EPSRC
  • document type: Outline proposal
  • scheme: Outline
  • call/type/mode: EPSRC Accelerating the Medicines Revolution Outline Small Grants

Once you have completed your application, make sure you ‘submit document’.

You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

If successful at the outline stage, you will be invited to submit a full application. We will send you guidance on completing a full application at this next stage.

The invited full proposal stage of this opportunity is likely to run on the Funding Service, our new funding platform, rather than through Je-S.

The Funding Service has a digital form-based format. This means that the exact application requirements and assessment criteria may alter from what is currently published. Further information will be published in the full proposal funding opportunity.


EPSRC must receive your application by 1 August at 4:00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Please leave enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation’s Je-S submission route before this date.

You should ensure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.


Your outline application must include a one page case for support which for this opportunity follows a non-standard format.

Case for support (one page)

It must address these key questions:

  • what is the feasibility or translational study?
  • why is this idea speculative and high-risk?
  • if the proposed idea is successful, what is the potential reward and why is this exciting?

EPSRC will reject proposals that do not fall within the funding opportunity scope. Ideas must be within the majority remit of EPSRC.

The one page case for support should focus on the ‘what’ and ‘why’, rather than the ‘how’. Therefore, the specific methodology or detail of work packages should not be included.

You should attach your documents as PDFs to avoid errors. They should be completed in single spaced Arial 11 font or similar-sized sans serif typeface. EPSRC will not accept any other attachment types under this opportunity.

Read our advice on writing proposals for EPSRC funding.

Ethical information

EPSRC will not fund a project if it believes that there are ethical concerns that have been overlooked or not appropriately accounted for. All relevant parts of the ‘ethical information’ section must be completed.

Guidance on completing ethical information on the Je-S form.

EPSRC guidance can be found under ‘additional information’.

How we will assess your application

Assessment Process

This will be a two-stage assessment process and this outline opportunity is stage one.

At stage one, we are looking for applications that are a good fit for the opportunity and are high risk with the potential for high reward.

You should seek to address the objectives as set out in the scope detailed in ‘what we’re looking for’ section in a novel and transformative way.

Any outline proposals EPSRC consider to be outside the scope of the opportunity, or not primarily within the remit of EPSRC, will be rejected prior to assessment, without recourse to the expert panel. Outline proposals that meet the scope will be assessed by an expert outline panel.

Applicants who are successful at stage one will be invited to submit full proposals to stage two. At stage two, full proposals will be assessed by an expert panel.

Following the panels, EPSRC will draw on expert advice on the desirable balance of applications across the portfolio taking into consideration the themes set out in the scope.

In the event of this opportunity being substantially oversubscribed as to be unmanageable, EPSRC reserves the right to modify the assessment process.

Assessment Criteria

Below describes the assessment criteria for stage one (outline proposals).

These three assessment criteria are equally weighted.

Assessment criterion one

‘How well does the research fit the opportunity?’

Panel members will use the following criteria in their assessment:

  • how well the project addresses one or more of the core themes
  • the fundamental innovation, particularly how the idea or anticipated results will contribute to the process of revolutionary thinking and stimulate many other innovations or changes in medicines manufacturing

Assessment criterion two

‘How speculative and high-risk is the research idea proposed?’

Panel members will use the following descriptors in their assessment:

  • very high risk: idea is highly speculative and wholly untested
  • high risk: idea is speculative and most aspects are untested
  • medium risk: idea is risky with some aspects currently untested
  • low risk: the idea involves little risk (does not fit the scope of the funding opportunity)

Assessment criterion three

‘If the proposed idea is successful, how exciting is the potential reward?’

Panel members will use the following descriptors in their assessment:

  • very exciting: potentially revolutionary or ground-breaking
  • exciting: potential for significant breakthroughs
  • somewhat exciting: potential for interesting or novel insights
  • not exciting: little potential for reward (does not fit the scope of the funding opportunity)

Standard criteria

More detailed information about the assessment process for this stage will be provided in the stage 2 call document.


Due to the nature and timescales of the funding opportunity, in stage one there will not be a right to reply stage and no specific feedback will be given.

In stage two there will not be a right to reply stage, however we aim to provide some feedback to applicants at this stage.

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity

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Additional info

Links to wider programme or area:

Find information about our future manufacturing research hubs, which are critical mass investments supporting the commercialisation of early stage research opportunities in emerging areas for the benefit of UK manufacturing industries. Hubs in areas potentially relevant to this opportunity include:

  • future targeted healthcare manufacturing hub
  • future continuous manufacturing and advanced crystallisation research hub (CMAC)
  • future biomanufacturing research hub


As shown by COVID-19, the UK’s ability to respond to new diseases and health risks is largely dependent on the excellence of our science and the agility of our academic and industrial base. Currently, the timeline for discovery of new medicines through to approval is too long, uncertain, costly and unsustainable to meet our future needs. Our ambition is to revolutionise the UK’s resilience to emerging health threats by transforming the manufacturing pipeline to deliver a step change in the supply of new medicines.

This funding opportunity is being delivered jointly by three EPSRC themes: healthcare technologies, manufacturing and the circular economy, and physical sciences. Through ensuring a focus on manufacturability from the outset, and bringing together expertise from all stages along the pipeline, we hope to facilitate a much more efficient and sustainable pathway for medicines manufacturing.

Research funded through the opportunity will contribute to delivering EPSRC’s transforming health and healthcare priority, as described in our strategic delivery plan, which commits to enabling a more sustainable and resilient healthcare system, integrating manufacturing across scales.

The opportunity also contributes to the UKRI strategic themes in:

  • health, ageing and wellbeing: by advancing people’s health and promoting wellbeing
  • tackling infections: by accelerating new therapeutics
  • building a secure and resilient world: by enhancing national preparedness for risks and threats
  • building a green future: by delivering a more sustainable pathway to deployment for new medicines

Grant Additional Conditions

Grants are awarded under the standard UKRI grant terms and conditions. Additional grant conditions will also apply, to be specified at the second stage.

Responsible innovation

EPSRC is fully committed to develop and promote responsible innovation. Research has the ability to not only produce understanding, knowledge and value, but also unintended consequences, questions, ethical dilemmas and, at times, unexpected social transformations.

We recognise that we have a duty of care to promote approaches to responsible innovation that will initiate ongoing reflection about the potential ethical and societal implications of the research that we sponsor and to encourage our research community to do likewise.

Supporting documents

Equality impact assessment (PDF, 120KB)

Accelerating the Medicines Revolution – Small Grants: Expression of interest (PDF, 30KB)


  • 1 August 2023
    Timeline amended: expected funding decision date change from 'Early November 2023' to 'Late February 2024' and grant start date changed from 'From 1 January 2024' to 'From 4 April 2024'.
  • 4 July 2023
    Timeline amended: stage one (outlines) expert panel meeting date changed from 'week commencing 29 September 2023' to 'week commencing 25 September 2023'.
  • 16 June 2023
    Updated the full economic cost figure from 'up to £150,000' to 'up to £187,500'. EPSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost (£150,000).

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