Healthcare technologies for infectious disease resilience

We have extended the deadline of this highlight notice to allow for more time to build multidisciplinary proposals in this area. The new closing date is: 31 March 2022 at 16:00.

Apply for funding to address infectious diseases, for example COVID-19, through healthcare technologies.

You must be:

  • a researcher based in the UK
  • at an organisation eligible for EPSRC funding.

Your project should be in one or both of these areas:

  • building resilience in healthcare systems
  • preventing, controlling, diagnosing and treating infectious diseases.

We’re particularly interested in projects that build on existing EPSRC COVID-19 research.

There is no limit on the size of the grant or length of the project.

We will award 80% of the full economic cost of the project. This opportunity is a highlight notice funded through the EPSRC healthcare technologies investigator-led grant scheme.

This opportunity is a highlight notice funded through the EPSRC healthcare technologies investigator-led grant scheme. Proposals are subject to the same remit, eligibility and assessment process as this scheme.

Who can apply

EPSRC research grants are open to:

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

Check if your organisation is eligible for funding.

You can apply if you are resident in the UK and meet at least one of these criteria:

  • are employed at the submitting research organisation at lecturer level or equivalent
  • hold a fixed-term contract that extends beyond the duration of the proposed research 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.

Clinical applicants must be employed or be on a fixed-term contract longer than the proposed project at an NHS:

  • trust
  • hospital
  • board
  • primary care trust
  • general practice.

Find out more about eligibility of investigators for EPSRC funding.

Applications from new investigators are welcome.

Find out more about eligibility for EPSRC new investigator awards.

We will not accept uninvited resubmissions of projects that have been submitted to UKRI or any other funder.

This funding opportunity is also subject to the EPSRC policy on repeatedly unsuccessful submissions.

What we're looking for

This highlight notice is to encourage applications to the EPSRC Healthcare technologies investigator-led grant that:

  • address tackling infectious diseases, for example COVID-19
  • focus on being more resilient to future epidemics and pandemics.

Your application should build upon and complement the existing EPSRC portfolio, especially research related to tackling COVID-19.

In particular, we are looking for novel engineering and physical science solutions in one or both of the following two areas.

Building resilience in healthcare systems to rapidly respond in healthcare emergencies

Solutions that help us prepare for, manage (absorb, adapt, and transform) and learn from shocks.

For example, this includes:

  • adaptable and scalable approaches to manufacturing vaccines and therapeutics
  • alternative and flexible approaches to deliver care
  • health surveillance systems and analytics to detect outbreaks.

Preventing, controlling, diagnosing, and treating infectious diseases

For example, this includes:

  • techniques for predictive prevention of disease
  • decision-support dashboards and tools for healthcare professionals, and flexible and adaptable processes for manufacturing high-quality therapies.

Scope of EPSRC healthcare technologies investigator-led grant

We are seeking a range of investigator-led proposals from researchers who want to apply their expertise to a defined healthcare challenge. You can work in:

  • engineering
  • physical sciences
  • ICT
  • mathematical sciences.

We particularly want to encourage research projects in line with our strategies and in the under-represented fields of:

  • ICT
  • mathematical sciences
  • physical sciences.

We would expect strong proposals to be working with clinical, business, charitable or public sector partners.

Your application should be in line with the grand challenges of our healthcare technologies theme:

  • developing future therapies with technologies that enhance efficacy, minimise costs and reduce risks to patients
  • frontiers of physical intervention, restoring physical function and optimising surgery and other physical interventions with high precision and minimal invasiveness
  • optimising treatment through effective diagnosis, patient-specific prediction and evidence-based intervention
  • transforming community health and care by using real-time information to support patients managing their own health and wellbeing and to allow healthcare professionals to make timely interventions.

Your application should also show how you will advance any cross-cutting research in:

  • advanced materials
  • disruptive technologies for sensing and analysis
  • future manufacturing technologies
  • medical device design and innovation
  • novel computational and mathematical sciences
  • novel imaging technologies.

We are particularly encouraging research projects that seek to:

  • transform community health and care
  • improve prevention and public health.

Find out more about the EPSRC healthcare technologies theme.

Out of scope

Any proposals submitted previously to either of these closed funding opportunities are not eligible, unless significantly revised or incorporated in new ways into other proposals:

Funding available

We fund a wide range of projects ranging from small, short-term grants to multi-million-pound research projects, including:

  • high-risk or high-return research embracing new concepts or techniques
  • feasibility studies
  • instrument development
  • collaborative projects that cross different disciplines.

We will fund 80% of the full economic costs of your project. You may request funding for:

  • staff costs
  • equipment and other items required to carry out the project
  • costs related to impact
  • travel and subsistence.

We recognise that the development of healthcare technologies is complex and can take longer than in other areas of research.

Your proposal should consider very carefully how you will maximise impact, and you are strongly advised to include a request for resources to support these elements of your work.

Find out more in the EPSRC healthcare technologies impact and translation toolkit.

How to apply

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S).

When adding a new proposal you should select:

  • council: EPSRC
  • document type: standard research
  • scheme: standard, or new investigator if relevant
  • project details: healthcare technologies investigator-led research or, for new investigators, healthcare technologies investigator-led research (NIA).

Your application should include the following attachments:

  • case for support (eight pages, two on your track record and six on the scientific case)
  • workplan (one page)
  • justification of resources (two pages)
  • CVs, up to two A4 sides each only for named:
    • postdoctoral staff
    • researcher- co-investigators (research assistants who have made a substantial contribution to the proposal and will be employed on the project for a significant amount of time)
    • visiting researchers
  • letters of support from all project partners included in the Je-S form (no page limit)
  • quotes for equipment above £25,000 (no page limit)
  • equipment business case for any items of equipment or combined assets with a value above £138,000 (up to two pages)
  • technical assessments for facilities listed as requiring one in the Je-S guidance (no page limit)
  • cover letter (optional attachment, no page limit, not seen by peer review)
  • host organisation statement (for new investigator awards only, no page limit).

Submission guidance

You should attach your documents as PDFs to avoid errors. They should be completed in single-spaced 11 font Arial or similar sans serif typeface.

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

When you submit the application, it will first go to your host organisation for review. You should hear the result of your application within 26 weeks of submission by your host organisation.

For full advice on completing applications, see the Je-S handbook.

Find out more about the EPSRC application process.

Overseas costs

Overseas costs include all costs incurred by non-UK organisations, including travel and subsistence and other directly incurred costs.

Information must be entered into Je-S under the ‘other directly incurred cost’ heading, using this exact format in the description box:

‘Organisation; Country; Cost Category; Cost Description’

For example: ‘University of Nairobi; Kenya; Other Directly Incurred Costs; Subcontracting of the production of samples’.

EPSRC guidance on directly incurred costs.

How we will assess your application

Your application is assessed by peer review. It will be sent electronically to at least three reviewers, including at least one nominated by you.

You will have the opportunity to respond to reviewer comments if your application gains enough support.

The proposal, reviewers’ comments and your response will then go to a panel that will score it against our assessment criteria and rank it with other proposals. Panels are organised by the healthcare technologies theme and meet up to four times a year.

When applications are few in number, the healthcare technologies theme will work with our capability-themed panels to assess your proposal.

If your proposal does not clearly meet a healthcare challenge, it will be assessed in the same way as other standard research proposals by the appropriate theme.

Your application is assessed first and foremost on quality (primary), followed by national importance (secondary major). It is also assessed on applicant and partnerships (secondary) and resources and management (secondary).

Find out more about the EPSRC assessment process.

Contact details

Email: healthcare@epsrc.ukri.org

Telephone: 01793 444120

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