Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Vaccines manufacturing research hubs

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Apply for funding to establish a large-scale research hub addressing challenges relating to vaccine delivery or manufacturing primarily for the benefit of low and middle income countries (LMICs).

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

The hub will be majority funded by DHSC. The full economic cost of the DHSC component can be up to £10 million and Official Development Assistance (ODA) conditions will apply. We will award 100% of the full economic cost.

You must also include a complementary work package of UK-focused research, funded by EPSRC, with a full economic cost of up to £450,000. This funding will not be subject to ODA conditions and we will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Who can apply

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

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UK Research and Innovation (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:

  • 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.

The UKRI-Research Council Norway Money Follow Cooperation Agreement (PDF, 222KB) does not apply to this funding opportunity. As such, vaccine manufacturing hubs cannot include a Norway-based co-investigator.

Submissions to this funding opportunity will count towards the EPSRC repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy.

What we're looking for

This opportunity offers funding for up to 4 large-scale manufacturing research hubs to address challenges relating to vaccine delivery, vaccine manufacturing or both, in LMICs. The funded vaccines manufacturing research hubs will join EPSRC’s portfolio of other critical mass investments in manufacturing research.

The hubs will support the UK Vaccine Network (UKVN) a DHSC strategic investment and deliver against priorities in the EPSRC strategic delivery plan including transforming health and healthcare, and engineering net zero.

Funding for much of the hub is being provided by DHSC to focus on benefits to LMICs, with additional funding from EPSRC for a complementary work package that must focus on UK impact.

This funding opportunity is being run specifically under DHSC guidance for ODA eligibility, with EPSRC acting as the delivery partner.

Opportunity objectives

The objectives for the hubs are to:

  • create and deliver a coherent programme of high quality, multidisciplinary research that addresses the major long term challenges facing vaccine manufacturers, in particular ease, speed, and cost of manufacture for vaccines used in LMICs
  • lead and support the development of major new disruptive technologies in the field of vaccine manufacturing for the benefit of LMICs
  • develop technologies and systems that allow for a rapid increase and scale-up of vaccines manufacturing in an epidemic or pandemic situation
  • demonstrate national and international leadership in this area of science, working closely and collaboratively with academic and industrial partners from the UK, other high-income countries and LMICs

The funded vaccine manufacturing research hubs will join EPSRC’s portfolio of critical mass investments in manufacturing research, and the UKVN’s portfolio of investments into vaccines for diseases of epidemic potential in LMICs.

Scope

The scope of this opportunity is to support innovative, multidisciplinary research programmes on vaccine delivery, vaccine manufacturing or both for the primary benefit of LMICs.

We envision that proposals include:

  • design and development of new and existing manufacturing processes, technologies, systems and networks as part of the vaccine development chain for:
    • rapid scale-up, quicker, simpler and more cost-effective manufacturing in epidemic or pandemic settings in LMICs
  • development of novel vaccine manufacturing technologies, creation of standardised antigen presentation and formulation or delivery systems that are either used directly in LMICs, or that improve the development and manufacture of vaccines that are used in LMICs
  • modernising existing vaccines used in LMICs where a modernised, reformulated or redeveloped vaccine would be a genuine improvement on the currently available vaccine and have a realistic chance (in the medium term) of replacing the currently used vaccine
  • development of economic modelling and decisional tools to assist and demystify the vaccine development process, where this is likely to improve distribution or use of vaccines in LMICs

DHSC and EPSRC are also very interested in any other areas of research, outside those areas listed above, that would contribute towards the opportunity objectives.

DHSC and EPSRC expect each hub to work with multiple platforms and technologies. It is not expected that any hub would focus solely on 1 type of platform or technology, or work on so many that their efforts are overly diluted.

The hub research programme must:

  • address 2 or more areas of research highlighted above
  • include the significant involvement of partners and users both in industry and in LMICs
  • draw on advances in underlying science, engineering and technology, such as (but not limited to) vaccinology, biotechnology and information and communications technology
  • explicitly consider the pathway to vaccine manufacture, including production scale up and integration within the wider industrial system
  • consider the longevity of the research programme established by the hub after 2028 such as long-term impacts and retention of infrastructure

The hubs will be funded through both DHSC, via the UKVN, and EPSRC which have different drivers for funding. The main body of work must be a programme primarily benefitting LMICs. There must also be an additional complementary and aligned work package focusing on achieving impact in the UK.

All activities funded through this research are expected to have satisfied regulatory and ethical requirements in each country prior to activities beginning.

Vaccines manufacturing research hub characteristics

The ‘hub and spoke’ model is being used, where the lead institution is responsible for the core management and running of the hub and spokes.

The lead institution will:

  • maintain a strong operational core with an appropriate, robust management structure in place to ensure the efficient operation and resilience of the hub including a mechanism for reviewing the vision
  • have a clear outline of programmes and activities that identify work packages, milestones, and SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) objectives, with a clear mechanism for monitoring, reviewing, and reporting. It should also be flexible to respond to the evolving nature of the vaccine landscape

Surrounding institutions or groups inputting specific expertise in areas that complement those from the lead institution will be the spokes.

Spoke expertise could be in research skills, capability or research translation and knowledge exchange. The overall number and identity may evolve over the hub lifetime and with spokes being engaged at differing levels of intensity and over different timescales.

Research spokes

Research spokes comprise groups providing research expertise not in the core hub research group, whether from a separate institution or from the wider hub host institution.

Their engagement could cover a range of activities, including sharing platform support resources, sharing equipment, feasibility projects and promoting

Innovation spokes

Innovation spokes act with the hub to improve impact by:

  • working across technology readiness levels
  • facilitating translation of research outputs to LMICs
  • providing a clear path to commercialisation for translation

They could be based in partnering countries or the UK, including:

  • catapults
  • UK national laboratories
  • government organisations having acknowledged science standing and independent verification capacity
  • research and technology organisations

Funding for activities will depend on the business model of the spokes.

You must demonstrate that your hub and spokes will:

  • deliver a high-quality innovative research programme with a multidisciplinary team, building on a history of excellence in research
  • have a clear shared vision, encompassing a core mission with a strategic view of the research programme and activities
  • draw on emerging research opportunities and bring in new disciplines
  • be an international centre of excellence working with organisations at the early stage of the vaccine development process, which includes:
    • providing end-to-end advice on how to manufacture and take their ideas into real products
    • enabling cross talk between scientists in early discovery, manufacturers in process development and end users
  • have clear routes to generating impact and how to maximise these to LMICs and UK manufacturing industries
  • show the added value of being a hub, with strong connectivity and a coherent focused portfolio of research
  • have a framework for active management of and engagement with LMICs, UK and other international collaborators, forming partnerships beyond the core membership. It is expected these partnerships will evolve over time and provide significant direction and support
  • provide leadership in the innovation landscape and drive forward the vaccine manufacturing research agenda, influencing and working with stakeholders to accelerate impact and generate growth

The hub is also expected to network and engage other researchers with relevant expertise beyond the hub and spokes across LMICs, the UK and internationally.

You must also demonstrate for the LMIC-focused programme:

  • how the hub and spokes will be ODA compliant in all aspects
  • address challenges and international development needs faced by LMICs

You must also demonstrate for the UK-focused programme:

  • how the hub will deliver impact in the UK
  • apply learning and outcomes from the LMIC-focused work

LMIC-focused programme: ODA

The majority of the hub programme must be focused on research that will have primary impact on LMICs and must be in line with ODA principles. This applies to all hub activities, except the separate UK-focused work package. This funding opportunity is being run specifically under DHSC guidance for ODA eligibility, with EPSRC acting as the delivery partner.

Although this opportunity is not part of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), the guidance regarding ODA (PDF, 330KB) should be followed.

ODA funded activities focus on outcomes that promote the long-term sustainable growth of countries on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list. ODA is administered with the promotion of the economic development and welfare of developing countries as its main objective. Activities can occur within the UK, the partner country or countries, or both, though the activities must primarily benefit LMICs.

Demonstrating how the programme would be ODA compliant should be set out in the case for support. You should ensure that their proposal focuses on the challenges specific to the partner country or countries and not broader global issues (those that are transboundary beyond LMICs).

It is important to note that capital expenditure on permanent, fixed facilities in the UK would not be considered ODA eligible. Where expenditure that could not reasonably be classed as ODA eligible is identified, you should look to leverage it from other funding sources.

Alternatively, if it constitutes a single, well-defined work package that is aligned to the hub’s main body of work and will primarily deliver impact within the UK, it could be requested as part of the UK-focused work package.

UK-focused work package

An additional work package focused on delivering impact within the UK, must also be included.

It must be thematically aligned with the overall hub vision and contribute towards achieving the objectives. The hub director retains oversight of the entire hub, including this work package, and should ensure that the hub functions as a cohesive whole.

Although the main aim of the hub is to carry out research for the benefit of LMICs, this work package offers an opportunity to ensure that hub research can also benefit manufacturing industries within the UK. This work package must be reserved for work that is not ODA-eligible and should seek to apply learning and outcomes from the hub within a UK national context.

You may wish to focus this work package on 1 particular aspect of the hub (for example, a particular technology or manufacturing process) or alternatively you could consider a more-cross-cutting approach, which seeks to leverage UK benefit from across the hub activities.

This work package must demonstrably lie primarily within EPSRC’s remit. If this work package is deemed to have a majority remit within another UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) council, EPSRC may reject the proposal without reference to peer review.

Funding available

DHSC and EPSRC are offering up to £19.5 million to support up to 4 vaccines manufacturing research hubs for a fixed duration of 4.5 years.

Funding is subject to DHSC budgetary availability. Authorisation of grants is subject to DHSC sign-off and, should budgets change, we reserve the right to terminate or reduce grants. This could take the form of cuts to grants before they are awarded, or in exceptional circumstances, at any point during the grant lifetime.

The hubs will be primarily funded by DHSC. For each hub, the full economic cost of the DHSC component must be from £4 million up to £10 million. This funding will be subject to ODA conditions and DHSC will fund 100% of the full economic cost.

Proposals should also include an additional UK-focused work package which may have a full economic cost of up to £450,000 and will be funded by EPSRC. This funding will not be subject to ODA conditions and we will fund 80% of the full economic cost. This will be awarded as a separate grant to the main DHSC-funded programme, due to differences between ODA and non-ODA funding and the percentage funding to be awarded.

We are keen to fund projects of various sizes, so applications at the smaller end of the advertised funding range are encouraged as well as larger projects. All projects should offer value for money.

Funding can be used to support activities such as:

  • core research activities or technologies that are necessary or valuable to the hub, including the appropriate dissemination of research knowledge and vaccine manufacturing technologies
  • supporting several major research projects or themes
  • retention of key staff and nurturing collaborations
  • networking with other hubs and centres in LMICs, the UK and overseas
  • feasibility studies to be conducted as part of the outreach programme
  • long-term vaccine manufacturing research challenges of users in LMICs, capturing future industrial opportunities from emerging research areas or both
  • operational funding, supporting hub administration, management, and governance

For the LMIC-focused programme, activities taking place outside of the UK are eligible for funding where they are appropriate and justified.

Additional financial and reporting requirements will apply to this award and the DHSC and EPSRC components must be reported on separately. Full details will be included in the grant terms and conditions issued with the successful grants.

Start date

Grants will have a fixed start date of 1 September 2023.

Duration

Funding for each project will be awarded over 4.5 years from 1 September 2023 until 31 March 2028.

Funding beyond the current spending review period (ending 31 March 2025) is provisional. In exceptional circumstances, should funding no longer be available for whatever reason, we reserve the right to reduce or terminate grants before the planned end date.

Equipment

Funding is available for items of equipment dedicated to the hub and the LMICs focused activities, costing up to £400,000 (including VAT). DHSC will fund 100% of the full economic cost. Equipment funding is subject to ODA conditions.

Items costing between £10,000 (including VAT) and £400,000 (including VAT) should be listed under ‘equipment’ within the ‘directly incurred’ fund heading.

Three quotations will be required for equipment costing more than £25,000 and, additionally, a 2-page equipment business case will be required for equipment costing more than £138,000. Quotes may be verbal for equipment in the range of £25,000 to £138,000 and must be written for equipment costing more than £138,000. They should include VAT, delivery charges and incorporate any standard academic discounts.

For any items or combined assets with a value above £138,000 a 2-page equipment business case must also be included in the proposal documentation.

Equipment funded through this opportunity must be dedicated to the hub and its objectives for the duration of the hub. All equipment must be fully justified in the justification of resources.

Equipment items costing less than £10,000 (including VAT) should be included under ‘other costs’ within the ‘directly incurred’ fund heading. All assets costing more than £500 should be itemised separately.

An asset register is expected to be kept by the hub for all assets worth over £500 and shared with DHSC upon request. DHSC will retain ownership of all assets throughout the lifetime of the programme and will retain the right to carry out spot checks on assets throughout the programme and to reclaim the asset after the funding is finished. Full details will be provided in the grant conditions. Please see Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s guidance (PDF, 383KB) for an indication of these requirements.

Equipment costing more than £10,000 is not available within the UK-focused work package (funded by EPSRC).

EPSRC approach to equipment funding.

Responsible innovation

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

UKRI’s environmental sustainability strategy lays out our ambition to actively lead environmental sustainability across our sectors. This includes a vision to ensure that all major investment and funding decisions we make are directly informed by environmental sustainability, recognising environmental benefits as well as potential for environmental harm.

Hubs should look to consider the environmental sustainability of the proposed research approaches and hub operations, as well as the associated project outputs and outcomes.

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 whilst protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information

How to apply

To apply for this opportunity, you must complete a mandatory expression of interest (EOI) by 4pm on 15 December 2022.

After completing an EOI, you must submit a full proposal through the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system by 4pm on 28 February 2023.

You can find advice on completing your application in the Je-S handbook. Your host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance.

We recommend you start your application early.

Submitting your EOI

You must complete your EOI using Smart Survey.

Please see the additional information section for advance notice of the information required to complete the EOI.

Submitting your full application

You must submit only 1 full proposal application, which should cover the entire project, as the LMIC-focused and UK-focused work will be assessed together as a single programme.

Please note your application must make clear which activities and costs will be attributed to each grant.

When adding a new proposal, you should go to documents, select ‘New Document’, then select:

  • ‘create new document’
  • council: ‘EPSRC’
  • document type: ‘standard proposal’
  • scheme: ‘standard’
  • project details: ‘Vaccines manufacturing research hubs’ opportunity

Important: when completing your costings on the Je-S application form, please only include costings for the UK-focused work package being funded by EPSRC. Costings for the LIMC-focused, work (funded by DHSC) should be provided separately by completing the ‘costings template’ document included as an attachment below in the supporting documents section, and by uploading it to your application as document type ‘additional attachment.’ Please note this attachment must be uploaded as either a PDF, PS or Word file type.

After completing the application:

  • you must ‘submit document’, which will send your application to your host organisation’s administration
  • your host organisation’s administration is required to complete the submission process. You should allow sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process between submitting your proposal to them and the opportunity closing date

Deadline

EPSRC must receive your EOI by 4pm on 15 December 2022.

You will not be able to submit an EOI after this time and full proposals not linked to a completed EOI will be rejected without reference to peer review.

EPSRC must receive your full application by 4pm on 28 February 2023.

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.

Attachments

As well as the Je-S application form, the following documents must be submitted as attachments:

  • case for support (8 pages: 2 on your track record and 6 on description of proposed research and its context)
  • workplan (1 page)
  • justification of resources (2 pages)
  • additional attachment. You:
    • must fully complete the ‘costings template’, including the breakdown of all the costs you are requesting for the LMIC-focused hub (DHSC funded)
    • do not include the costs for the UK-focused work package (EPSRC funded). These should be included in the Je-S form instead
  • host organisation statement from the lead research organisation only (2 pages). Please do not include statements from spokes
  • CVs (up to 2 sides of A4 each) only for:
    • 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
  • equipment quotes for items above £25,000
  • equipment business case for any items of equipment or combined assets with a value above £138,000 (2 pages)
  • technical assessments for facilities listed as requiring one in the Je-S guidance
  • cover letter, which is:
    • optional
    • not seen by peer review
  • ODA compliance statement for LMIC-focused work only (up to 1 page, attachment type ‘non-UK components’) in which you should consider the following questions:
    • which country, countries, or regions from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list of ODA recipients will directly benefit from this proposal? And are these countries likely to continue to be eligible to receive ODA for the duration of the research? Please refer to the DAC list for information about countries that will be considered for graduation at the next review
    • how is your proposal directly and primarily relevant to the development challenges of these countries or regions? Please provide evidence of the development need and articulate how the proposed activity is appropriate to address this need
    • how do you expect that the outcome of your proposed activities will promote the health, economic development and welfare of a country, countries, or regions across the DAC list?
    • what approach or approaches will you use to deliver development impact within the lifetime of the project and in the longer-term? Please consider the potential outcomes, the key beneficiary and stakeholder groups in the DAC list country or countries and how they will be engaged to ensure opportunities for them to benefit and to enable development impact to be achieved
  • gender equality statement for LMIC-focused work only (up to 1 page, attachment type ‘non-UK components’), which:
    • must be included to comply with the International Development (Gender Equality) Act 2014
    • should outline how you have taken meaningful yet proportionate consideration as to how the project will contribute to reducing gender inequalities
    • you are required to address the criteria, with an understanding that, depending on the nature of your research and innovation, not all questions will be applicable

EPSRC’s guidance on project partners letter of support.

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.

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 info’.

Nominating reviewers

As part of the application process, you will be invited to nominate up to 3 potential reviewers who you feel have the expertise to assess your proposal. Please ensure that any nominations meet the EPSRC policy on conflicts of interest.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

Applications will be assessed by postal peer review and then an interview panel.

Expressions of interest (EOI)

EOIs will not undergo external assessment but will be used by EPSRC to assess the levels of demand for this funding opportunity and determine eligibility.

It is mandatory to submit an EOI. Full proposals not associated with a completed EOI will be rejected without reference to peer review.

Full proposals

The submitted full proposals will be assessed through postal peer review. Reviewers will be assessing applications against the full proposal assessment criteria detailed below.

Applications that receive sufficient support from reviewers will be taken through for an interview. If reviews are unsupportive, we reserve the right to reject proposals at this stage.

The interview panel will be held week commencing 10 July 2023, either in person or virtually over Zoom. Full logistical details and guidance for applicants will be provided in advance.

Up to 4 people from the hub team may attend the interview and this should include the principal investigator and at least 1 project partner. At the interview, you will be asked to give a short presentation on your hub vision and strategy, followed by a question and answer session. The panel will assess your application against the assessment criteria, using evidence from the proposal, reviews, principal investigator response and the interview itself. They will then produce a rank ordered list of proposals.

We will use the rank ordered list to determine priority for funding.

We expect to contact applicants with the outcome within 2 weeks of the interview panel.

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

Assessment criteria

You should ensure that your proposal fully addresses all the following assessment criteria, taking note of the different weightings.

Standard criteria

Quality (primary)

The research excellence of the proposal, making reference to:

  • the novelty, relationship to the context, timeliness and relevance to identified stakeholders
  • the ambition, adventure, transformative aspects or potential outcomes
  • the suitability of the proposed methodology and the appropriateness of the approach to achieving impact
Importance (secondary major)

Please note this criterion only applies to the UK-focused work package

Comment on the national importance of the research. How the research:

  • contributes to or helps maintain the health of other disciplines
  • contributes to addressing key UK societal challenges
  • contributes to future UK economic success and development of emerging industry or industries
  • meets national needs by establishing or maintaining a unique world-leading activity
  • complements other UK research funded in the area, including any relationship to the EPSRC portfolio
  • plans for dissemination and knowledge exchange with potential beneficiaries of the research
Applicant and partnerships (secondary)

The ability to deliver the proposed project, making reference to:

  • appropriateness of the track record of the applicant or applicants
  • balance of skills of the project team, including collaborators
Resources and management (secondary)

The effectiveness of the proposed planning and management and whether the requested resources are appropriate and have been fully justified, making reference to:

  • any equipment requested, or the viability of the arrangements described to access equipment needed for this project, and particularly on any university or third-party contribution
  • any resources requested for activities to either increase impact, for public engagement or to support responsible innovation

Opportunity specific criteria

Fit to hub opportunity (primary)

The suitability of the proposal for this funding opportunity, making reference to:

  • the alignment of the proposal to the funding opportunity objectives
  • the appropriateness of critical mass funding and the hub and spoke model for addressing the identified research challenges and the extent to which this would deliver added value
  • the excellence of the overall hub strategy and vision
Benefit to LMICs (secondary major)

Demonstrating that the proposed programme is ODA compliant, making reference to:

  • the potential to address challenges and international development needs faced by LMICs
  • the potential benefits of the proposed research to the economic development and welfare of LMICs
  • the routes to achieving impact from the research within LMICs
  • the degree to which it meets LMICs need by establishing or maintaining a unique world-leading activity
  • the degree to which it complements other LMICs research funded in the area
  • the plans for dissemination and knowledge exchange with potential beneficiaries of the research
Governance and project management (secondary)

The effectiveness, comprehensiveness and appropriateness of the proposed project management and governance plans, including:

  • the scope, aims, and objectives of the project
  • the proposed project management methodology and management, including financial, risk, asset, impact, and change management
  • the proposed governance structure
Gender equality statement (to be assessed at the interview panel only and not by reviewers)

Criteria to address while considering gender impact:

  • have measures been put in place to ensure equal and meaningful opportunities for people of different genders to be involved throughout the project? This includes the development of the project, the participants of the research and innovation, and the beneficiaries of the research and innovation
  • the expected impact of the project (benefits and losses) on people of different genders, both throughout the project and beyond
  • the impact on the relations between people of different genders and people of the same gender. For example, changing roles and responsibilities in households, society, economy, politics, power
  • how will any risks and unintended negative consequences on gender equality be avoided or mitigated against, and monitored?
  • are there any relevant outcomes and outputs being measured, with data disaggregated by age and gender (where disclosed)?

Read further guidance for applicants on gender equality statements (PDF, 538KB). This guidance was issued as part of previous Global Challenges Research Fund and Newton Fund opportunities but is also relevant for this opportunity.

Feedback

Feedback is provided in the form of the reviewer reports from the postal peer review stage. You will not receive additional feedback after the interview panel meeting unless specifically requested by the panel.

Guidance for reviewers

Please provide comments in the ‘call specific criteria’ section of the reviewer form assessing the 3 ‘fit to opportunity’ criteria as defined above.

The importance criterion is applicable only to the UK-focused (EPSRC funded) work package.

Reviewers should read the full opportunity guidance before making their assessment. Please ensure that you provide comments against all the assessment criteria, including the opportunity-specific criteria.

EPSRC peer review process and guidance for reviewers.

Contact details

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 a question about the opportunity

Becky Cheesbrough, Portfolio Manager

Email: rebecca.cheesbrough@epsrc.ukri.org

Laura Totterdell, Senior Portfolio Manager

Email: laura.totterdell@epsrc.ukri.org

EPSRC manufacturing and the circular economy inbox

Email: manufacturing@epsrc.ukri.org

Please include ‘vaccines hubs opportunity’ in the subject line.

We aim to respond within 5 working days.

Get help with Je-S

Any queries regarding the submission of proposals through Je-S should be directed to the Je-S helpdesk.

Email

jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone

01793 444164

Opening times

Je-S helpdesk opening times

Additional info

Wider programme or area links

This funding opportunity is a UK Vaccine Network (UKVN) investment, funded by DHSC.

UKVN brings together industry, academia and relevant funding bodies to make targeted investments in specific vaccines and vaccine technologies for infectious diseases with the potential to cause an epidemic in LMICs.

UKVN was established in 2015 in response to the 2014 to 2016 West African Ebola outbreak, which illustrated a serious market failure in vaccine development against diseases that cause epidemics in LMICs. The UKVN project supports the development of vaccines and vaccine technologies for 12 priority diseases of epidemic potential in LMICs using ODA funding.

The UKVN portfolio is focused on the earlier stages of development, feeding the vaccine research and development pipeline in an area of market failure by investing where the private sector often does not, to bring promising candidates through from pre-clinical development to early clinical trials and funding projects to improve vaccine manufacturing and innovation.

UKVN has had notable successes during its first phase (ended in March 2022) and has also had a substantial role in supporting the UK government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has funded over 90 other projects, including 11 first in human clinical trials. Most notably, vaccine technology the UKVN developed through MERS vaccine research was repurposed to develop the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

Funding opportunity background

Vaccines are widely recognised as one of the most effective mechanisms through which to prevent ill-health and control infectious disease outbreaks. However, many vaccines are designed and manufactured for markets in high-income settings, which make them ill-suited or too costly for use in LMICs, or they do not address the diseases primarily affecting LMICs.

There are also broader challenges in this field around the lack of technologies that allow for rapid scale-up of production in the event of an epidemic or pandemic and the difficulty of transitioning promising early technologies from the lab effectively through to Good Manufacturing Practice manufacture and scale-up.

The UK government is taking concerted and coordinated action to address this market failure. The UK has committed to invest £73 million between 2022 and 2025 on the development of new vaccines for such diseases, in line with the expert advice provided by UKVN.

UKVN is made up of leading experts from academia, industry and policy. Due to the challenges outlined above, the network has identified vaccine manufacturing as a priority area for investment and up to £18 million from 2023 to 2028 has been made available from this programme with a vision to bring together researchers from vaccine development and manufacturing in a programme of innovative research activities.

Funded hubs will form part of the EPSRC manufacturing research hubs portfolio, including future manufacturing hubs and manufacturing research hubs for a sustainable future.

This opportunity follows a previous UKVN funding opportunity delivered by EPSRC on behalf of DHSC, which funded 2 vaccines manufacturing research hubs, with a total investment of around £20 million over 6 years:

In September 2022, EPSRC released their strategic delivery plan for 2022 to 2025 to support the world-class engineering and physical sciences research and innovation system. This delivery plan will build upon the strong track record of working across UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and in partnership with government, businesses of all scales and the wider local, national and global research and innovation landscape. This funding opportunity is important for delivering world class impacts through transforming health and healthcare and engineering net zero, 2 key strategic priorities.

Grant additional conditions

Grants are awarded under the standard UKRI grant terms and conditions. Additional grant conditions will also apply and will be confirmed by EPSRC before the grants are awarded.

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, 777KB)
Costing template for LMIC-focused hub (DOCX, 27KB)
Expression of interest form (PDF, XXKB)

This is the integrated website of the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
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