• Status: Closed

  • Key features: Investment up to £7.5m in collaborative R&D, to develop in-vivo clinical imaging and non-invasive technologies.

  • Programme: Collaborative research and development

  • Award: Up to £7.5m

  • Opens: 25 Mar 2013, 00:00

  • Registration closes: 15 May 2013, 12:00

  • Closes: 22 May 2013, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

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Advancing in-vivo imaging for stratified medicine


The Technology Strategy Board is to invest up to £7.5m in collaborative R&D, to develop in-vivo clinical imaging and non-invasive technologies that will enhance the detection and characterisation of human disease. 
We will select projects with the potential to improve diagnosis and clinical outcomes by providing clinicians and healthcare workers with information which allows them to choose the most appropriate treatment or further investigation for patients. 
Successful projects should lead to better stratification – enabling patients to be grouped according to their individual needs and probable responses to treatment. The competition will focus on areas where there is currently unmet clinical need (for example, in oncology and in neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, respiratory, rheumatic, ophthalmic and dermatological disease). 
Projects must be business-led and collaborative, and they should last no more than three years. The amount of funding per project will depend on the type of participant and the type of research being undertaken. 
We are primarily seeking to fund industrial research, with a business partner attracting 50% public funding for their eligible project costs (60% for SMEs). Where academic partners are involved, their costs must be no greater than 50% of the total project costs.
We expect project costs to range in size from £500k up to a maximum of £2m, although we may consider larger projects – applicants should discuss this with us before making an application. 
This is a two-stage competition that opens on 25 March 2013. The deadline for expressions of interest is noon on 22 May 2013. A briefing event for applicants will be held on 9 April 2013


The Technology Strategy Board's Stratified Medicine Innovation Platform works in partnership with six organisations seeking to drive the development and uptake of stratified medicine products and services in the UK.
The Technology Strategy Board will invest up to £50m in stratified medicine over the next five years, while the partnership of the Technology Strategy Board, the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, Arthritis Research UK, the Department of Health, the Scottish Government Health Directorate and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence will together invest around £200m in the area. 
Stratified medicine aims to provide early and accurate diagnosis, and to identify the best treatment and disease management for patients. It moves away from a trial-and-error approach to healthcare, selecting the most appropriate therapeutic regime or other intervention, based on quality science, clinical evidence and economic value.
It encompasses the development and use of companion diagnostics that help to personalise patient care, and the use of a wide variety of other diagnostic tools to guide clinicians in selecting the best treatment options and care pathways for patients. 
With many diseases, the probability of achieving a positive clinical outcome is far greater the earlier a disease is detected, and the earlier appropriate treatment can be given.
There is a considerable need for early and detailed characterisation of disease in inaccessible areas of the body, such as the brain, the abdominal and thoracic cavities, and the deep viscera/ soft tissues such as the pancreas and liver, where traditional biopsy procedures are either not available or not predictive, or where they carry high risk. 
These challenges offer a significant opportunity to develop detector-related technologies that can be used on patients for diagnosis, or during medical procedures.
Other issues that affect the wider uptake of current technologies include variability in equipment and operators, lack of access to equipment and tracers, poor data ‘image' resolution, and a lack of the standardisation required for consistent diagnoses for patient stratification and follow-up. The ability to combine various technologies to allow better real-time imaging during surgery would also be of benefit.
This competition is designed to identify opportunities for patient stratification in areas of high unmet clinical need that use patient imaging, such as CT scans, MRIs and X-rays, and non-invasive approaches to detection that use, for example, pressure or impedance measurements, ultrasound or thermal imaging.
These are technological areas where the UK has a strong business capability, and where further development will bring great benefits for health services in the UK and abroad, as well as for the UK economy. 
In recognising the potential of new and improved in-vivo imaging techniques and capabilities to advance stratified medicine, the competition is in line with the Technology Strategy Board's Stratified Medicine Roadmap. 
Apart from developing new detection hardware, this competition is also open to technologies that will enhance current detection systems.
These may include the use of contrast agents, fluorescent ligands, radioisotopes for computer-aided tomography and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging, and ultrasound technologies within the healthcare environment, which will help in characterisation of patient pathology. 
Improvements in software and digital analysis algorithms can also improve the resolution of current technologies and increase their use and effectiveness.
We are hoping to see collaborative projects which will develop imaging-related capabilities such as diagnostic tests for patient stratification, data analysis and selection of appropriate therapies, as well as determining the potential of these tests for commercialisation and implementation. 


Projects can encompass many subjects, including, but not limited to: 
  • improving resolution of an imaging system to allow regulatory approval of a biomarker as a surrogate end point 
  • allowing real-time three-dimensional imaging to improve surgical procedures 
  • detecting changes in intra-cerebral pressure without penetrating the skull 
  • detecting changes in tumours of the skin and deep body cavities that indicate the need for intervention 
  • producing novel tracers that identify neurological changes requiring intervention. 
Detection systems based on ex-vivo testing of body fluids and tissues such as blood, urine or saliva are outside the scope of this competition. 
Project proposals should show how they would develop a clinically relevant, imaging-related capability that will enhance early detection, or improve the characterisation of disease or procedures during surgery.
Where appropriate the proposal should describe the unmet need that the new capability will address, how and where it could be integrated into clinical care pathways, and the anticipated benefits to the healthcare systems and the businesses involved in the collaboration.
Applicants should demonstrate a clear understanding of the work that is required, beyond the project's end, to deliver a commercially viable, regulatory-approved product and/or service to the market. Or if their product is only part of a solution, who they will partner with to exploit the new capability they have developed, and encourage its adoption by healthcare providers. 
Applicants need to provide a detailed technical description of their new product or capability, with an outline of how, where and by whom it would be used. They should supply some credible evidence that the technologies are appropriate, that the project development plan is feasible and that the technology is fit for purpose. 
Companies may make multiple applications for different projects within this call. 

Funding allocation and project details

We are making up to £7.5m available for collaborative R&D projects.
The Research Councils, and in particular the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, may also provide additional funding on a project-by-project basis. 
Projects must be business-led and collaborative. They should last no more than three years. The amount of funding per project will depend on the type of participant and the type of research being undertaken. 
We are primarily seeking to fund industrial research, with a business partner attracting 50% public funding for their eligible project costs (60% for SMEs). Where academic partners are involved, their costs must be no greater than 50% of the total project costs.
We expect project costs to range from £500k up to a maximum of £2m. We may consider larger projects, but applicants should discuss these with us before making an application.
Funding will cover costs related to technology development and clinical costs associated with testing and validation in patients, but will not fund the discovery of exploratory biomarkers or technologies specifically for animal studies. 

Application process

This is a two-stage competition which opens on 25 March 2013
  • Stage 1 – applicants submit expressions of interest 
  • Stage 2 – we invite selected applicants to submit a full application. 
Applicants must first register via our website by noon on 15 May 2013, and expressions of interest (EOIs) must be submitted by noon on 22 May 2013
EOIs will be assessed by an independent panel of experts, and selected applicants will then be invited to submit a full application. The second stage for invited applications will open on 17 June 2013 and close at noon on 18 July 2013
An optional briefing event will be held in London on 9 April 2013
We may apply a portfolio approach in funding projects, to ensure that we meet a range of challenges in this area, subject to applications meeting the required quality threshold. 
NB: the funding rules for projects changed in September 2012.  
Looking for partners to work on your project for this competition? Go to _connect

Key dates

  • Competition opens: 25 March 2013
  • Applicant briefing day: 9 April 2013
  • Registration deadline: 15 May 2013 noon
  • Expressions of interest deadline: 22 May 2013 noon
  • Applicants notified of decision: 14 June 2013
  • Feedback provided: 17 June 2013
  • Stage 2 opens (for invited applicants): 17 June 2013
  • Stage 2 applicants' briefing (for invited applicants): 25 June 2013
  • Deadline for receipt of full applications: 18 July 2013 noon
  • Stage 2 applicants informed of application results: 20 September 2013

Further information

To apply for this competition you must first register with us. When you register you will get access to all the supporting information you need before you apply, including the Guidance for Applicants and the application form. 
The Health Knowledge Transfer Network will also be organising events, providing further information on this competition, and offering networking and consortia-building opportunities.   


As part of the application process all applicants are asked to submit a public description of the project. This should adequately describe the project but not disclose any information that may impact on intellectual property, is confidential or commercially sensitive.
The titles of successful projects, names of organisations, amounts awarded and the public description will be published once the award is confirmed as final. Information about unsuccessful project applications will remain confidential and will not be made public.
E-mail pressoffice@tsb.gov.uk with any queries.