Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Cancer therapeutics

This programme focuses on developing life-changing cancer treatments, including immunotherapies and vaccines. It also supports projects addressing medical needs for treating childhood and young persons’ cancers.

The programme aims to accelerate the commercialisation of cancer therapies discovered in UK universities and businesses.

£30 million
Three years
Partners involved:
Innovate UK

The scope and what we're doing

Programme objectives

The Cancer therapeutics programme has three key objectives.

  1. Create growth in the UK cancer therapeutics sector, including childhood cancer and young persons’ cancers.
  2. Provide innovative products and services more quickly and effectively into healthcare.
  3. Provide support to commercially-led research and development (R&D) in a seamless, effective and efficient manner.

This supports Innovate UK objectives in building the future economy, as described in the Innovate UK Plan for action, to advance the UK’s ambition as a global leader in science and technology. The programme aims to provide new medicines that will improve people’s health in the UK and the rest of the world.


The programme will provide support through:

  • accelerators and venture creation, for early-stage small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and academic spin-outs
  • industry-led R&D, for SMEs at various stages
  • investor partnerships, providing co-funding with private and charity investors

Why we're doing it

Cancer kills more than 10 million people each year globally. Half of all the UK population will suffer from cancer in their lifetime and it is the leading cause of death from infancy to age 24 in the UK.

While there has been great progress in cancer diagnosis, treatment and management, there is still much more to do.

Paediatric oncology is the study and treatment of childhood cancer. It is a particular area of focus, as childhood cancer presents unique challenges compared to cancer in adults.

For example, the dose of chemotherapy a child receives will generally depend on their weight. However, this doesn’t account for differences in bodily make-up and metabolism, which also impact the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

Paediatric oncology can also appear to be a risky area for clinical research, recruitment of patients and in the delivery of paediatric clinical trials, including ethical concerns.

New medicines

During the COVID-19 pandemic we developed and used medical innovation in new ways. This included the development of mRNA vaccines and advances in precision medicine, which has accelerated the UK’s capability to produce innovative therapies, leading to an increase in the UK’s capability to produce new medical treatments.

This will allow us to prepare for future pandemics. We can also apply these new technologies to other areas of medicine.

Using what we learned during the pandemic and the UK’s world-class science capability, this programme will offer support for UK entrepreneurs to provide new cancer treatments.

Opportunities, support and resources available

For details of the latest events, funding opportunities and industry updates visit Innovate UK KTN’s health sector page.

Who to contact

Ask a question about this area of investment

Dr Karen Spink, Head of Medicines


Include ‘Cancer Therapeutics programme’ in the subject line.

We aim to respond within ten working days.

Health Sector Team, Innovate UK

Visit: Innovate UK KTN’s health sector page

Last updated: 7 December 2023

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