Proceeding from the first call for transformative healthcare technologies, the healthcare technologies (HT) theme seeks adventurous ideas and fundamental innovation that have the potential to significantly improve healthcare delivery by 2050.
On this call, EPSRC is collaborating with the Medical Research Council (MRC) to target projects that are guided by a longer-term vision to pursue new ideas and develop thinking and approaches supported by the next generation of underpinning science, engineering and emerging technologies in the healthcare space.
We aim to invest in high risk or high gain, multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary research drawing on novel engineering, physical sciences, mathematical sciences and ICT to advance healthcare.
We are encouraging multidisciplinary teams to apply, including co-collaboration with healthcare professionals, social scientists and users. All applications must be predominantly with the remit of EPSRC and must align to the EPSRC Healthcare Technologies Grand Challenges.
This call will be administered in two aligned funding streams: the development and delivery phases. EPSRC is currently inviting full proposals for transformative healthcare technologies for offer of awards in the development phase.
For the development phase (phase 1), an initial round of seed funding will be available to analyse, evaluate and establish the attainability of key elements of a research project.
Phase 1 consists of £6 million to fund 15 to 20 projects over a 15-month period. Projects will start from 1 October 2021.
During phase 1, grant holders will be invited to submit proposals for phase 2 (delivery phase) of the call, where up to £24 million will be available to support 4 to 6 substantive programmes of research.
This call will only support preclinical and precompetitive research projects that are predominantly within EPSRC’s remit. Applications to this call are encouraged, across the breadth of engineering, physical sciences, mathematical sciences and ICT, with initiatives toward increasing adventurous research in the Healthcare Technologies community.
The focus of this call is adventurous projects that will transform healthcare for 2050: technologies expected to have an impact within the next 30 years for the NHS, community or home care, and an ageing workforce.
EPSRC is looking for applications that do not just consider health treatment but also homecare, prevention and wellbeing with the overall goal of keeping people physically and mentally healthy. We are looking to support ambitious projects which are cross-disciplinary and could change the context of healthcare delivery. We seek and encourage co-creative research that can either revolutionise existing fields, and/or support discovery that might lead to radically new (disruptive) technologies.
A good example of a well-known disruptive, innovative technology that has become routine and led to real impact within the healthcare sector is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The discovery of MRI in medicine began with an initial study on the differences in tissue proton relaxation among normal tissues and between normal and cancer tissues. This led to the proposal of external nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) scanning of live human beings and the subsequent development of imaging methods. MRI now serves as a primary diagnostic modality for many clinical problems, can provide information on healthy and diseased tissue and can lead to early detection and treatment of disease.
We are keen to help realise the potential of the following:
- research that merges robotics and biological systems, for example neural or sensor interfaces
- pre-symptomatic diagnosis and continuous health monitoring
- future affordable and inclusive healthcare solutions
- repurposing technologies originally developed for other fields for potential healthcare impact.
Note that the above are just some examples and not an exhaustive list.
Researchers will be required to identify the impacts and advantages of their project vision, demonstrating the future benefits of the project to the healthcare sector. Potential future impacts could include:
- transforming the healthcare sector, improving prevention, prediction, diagnosis and/or treatment of disease
- creating low-cost and/or inclusive technologies, for example to address the
increasing health, social care and wellbeing costs of an ageing population
- addressing problems associated with physical health, mental health, social health and/or wellbeing
- impacting care in hospitals, homes (including hospital at home), communities, and/or the workplace
- predicting and challenging future healthcare needs
- enabling the management of complex long-term conditions
- demonstrating increased UK productivity and/or an enhanced resilience of communities through future disruptive healthcare technologies
- managing changing public and patient care expectations
- preparing the healthcare sector for changes resulting from innovation and technology.
EPSRC wishes to encourage new thinking and collaborations which will bring about the technologies to impact the healthcare sector within the next 30 years.
Co-creation is an important assessment criterion for this call (see the additional information section for details on co-creation and impact). Applicants will be required to develop and execute a strategy for engaging with potential users of the research funded in the project.
Resources for this activity can be requested as part of the project and must be justified in the application. Applicants should describe how the stakeholders will be involved throughout the project.
Researchers are encouraged to consider how they will undertake their work in a manner that maximises the opportunity to generate real-world impact. Researchers are expected to integrate this in the case for support.
We particularly welcome projects and collaborations which focus on the needs of the Healthcare Technologies Grand Challenges.
Find out more about the Healthcare Technologies Grand Challenges.
There is up to £6 million available through this call to seed fund feasibility studies of maximum £300,000 (80% FEC) each.
We expect to fund around 20 projects for 15 months with a set start date of 1 October 2021.
Individual items of equipment below £10,000 can be included in proposals for individual research projects and will be paid at 80% FEC. They should be included in the ‘Directly incurred – other costs’ heading.
If equipment over £10,000 in value is needed as part of the research proposal, applicants must follow EPSRC’s rules for requesting equipment. EPSRC require a 50% contribution to the cost of the equipment from other sources.
Please note that the £10,000 threshold applies to individual items of equipment. Where items costing £10,000 and below are to be combined into one asset costing more £10,000 these items should be included as a ‘Directly incurred equipment cost’ as one item.
Find more information on equipment funding.