• Status: Closed

  • Key features: Investment of up to £2.2m will be allocated for projects that apply innovative photonics technologies to challenges in the health sector.

  • Programme: Collaborative research and development

  • Award: Up to £2.2m

  • Opens: 11 Mar 2013, 00:00

  • Registration closes: 17 Apr 2013, 12:00

  • Closes: 24 Apr 2013, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

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Photonics for health - Collaborative R&D

Summary

The Technology Strategy Board is to invest up to £3.7m in projects that apply innovative photonics technologies to challenges in the health sector. The funding is for collaborative R&D projects, and for collaborative feasibility studies. 
 
 The UK is already a significant player in the photonics market, with expertise in many areas relating to the manipulation of light, such as optical fibres, lasers and optical tweezers. These technologies have the potential for a wide range of applications in the diagnosis and treatment of serious diseases. Given its strengths in the life sciences sector, the UK has an opportunity to lead the world in the development and commercialisation of bio-photonics. 
 
One of the challenges to overcome, however, is the difficulty that users such as the NHS and clinicians sometimes have in understanding the potential of next- generation photonic technologies. The aim of this competition, therefore, is to bring together multi-disciplinary teams involving academics, businesses and healthcare providers, to develop new applications of photonics in healthcare. 
 
Projects must be business-led and collaborative. 
 
There are two strands to this competition: 
 
Strand 1 is a single-stage process for feasibility studies. Projects must include at least one small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) and last between six and 12 months, with total project costs up to £175k. Projects may attract up to 75% public funding of eligible project costs. £1.5m will be allocated to this strand. 
 
Strand 2 is a two-stage process for collaborative R&D projects. Projects should include at least one SME and last between 12 and 24 months, with total project costs up to £750k. Projects may attract up to 60% funding of eligible project costs. £2.2m will be allocated to this strand. 
 
The percentage of costs that are met will vary, depending on the type of research being carried out and the type of organisation involved. Strand 1 will fund pre-industrial feasibility studies, while under Strand 2, we are primarily seeking to fund industrial research. 
 
This competition opens on 11 March 2013
 
The deadline for registration for Strand 1 is noon on 24 April 2013. The deadline for completed applications is noon on 1 May 2013
 
The deadline for registration for Strand 2 is noon on 17 April 2013. The deadline for completed expressions of interest is noon on 24 April 2013. The second stage for invited applicants opens on 13 May 2013, and the deadline for completed applications is noon on 19 June 2013
 
Please note the differences in registration and submission dates between the two strands. 
 
A briefing event for this competition will be held on 21 March 2013
 

Background

The global bio-photonics market is forecast by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, to reach $100bn by 2018. The UK is already a significant player in the photonics market, and a leader in areas as diverse as optical fibre technologies, lasers, optical tweezers and organic LEDs.
 
These technologies have the potential for a wide range of applications in the diagnosis and treatment of many serious diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular conditions, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes and impaired vision. Given its strengths in the life sciences sector, the UK has an opportunity to lead the world in the development and commercialisation of bio-photonics.
 
Healthcare technologies based on lasers and LEDs can enable less invasive procedures for eye surgery, retinal mapping, and more general surgery ranging from angioplasty to skin treatments. Lasers can also be used to treat chronic pain and repair damaged neurons.
 
Optical fibres, meanwhile, when used in endoscopy and laparoscopy for image capture and laser light delivery, enable less invasive diagnosis and surgery. Optical fibre sensors for multipoint and multi- parameter sensing allow monitoring of vital signs during medical imaging procedures, such as MRI, where high levels of electromagnetism and radiofrequency could interfere with electronic sensors.
 
Imaging and spectroscopy enable real-time procedures for both in-vivo-analysis and in-vitro diagnostics. The key challenges are to increase image resolution beyond the diffraction limit, improve information about molecular processes, and reach into greater tissue depth.
 
In addition, photonics is a key technology for the manufacture of medical implants and stents, where laser manufacturing technologies allow the production of complicated 3D shapes to a high level of accuracy.
 
While the UK has great strengths both in photonics and the life sciences, this competition seeks to encourage the formation of new partnerships that will create stronger connections between these communities. A particular challenge to overcome is the fact that users, including the NHS and clinicians, may find it difficult to understand the potential of next-generation photonic technologies.
 
The aim of the competition is to promote work in multi-disciplinary teams involving academics, businesses and the healthcare providers, to develop new applications of photonics in healthcare. 
 

Scope

The scope of this competition is intended to be broad, in order to stimulate innovation and new cross-sector, industry- led collaborations across all areas of the supply chain in photonics for health.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • therapy using light, for example phototherapy for dermatological conditions, photodynamic therapy etc
  • combining treatment with diagnostics – theranostics, to locate and address problems
  • laser procedures in ophthalmology, for example correction of near- and far-sightedness in vision, photorefractive keratectomy, and general surgery such as endovascular surgery and gastro intestinal surgery
  • oncology (excluding in-vivo imaging)
  • lasers used in the manufacture of medical devices, for example stents and catheters, and in the structuring of prosthetics
  • genomic research and drug discovery
  • microbiology (viral and bacterial analysis) K sterilisation using light sources
  • novel biomedical materials that change their properties after light treatment
  • in-vitro diagnostics, for example using optical microscopy and spectroscopy for cell-based studies to identify diseases such as cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

The following technology areas are out of scope for this competition and therefore not eligible for funding:

  • in-vivo imaging techniques, such as X-Ray, MRI, CT, PET, photoacoustic imaging and OCT
  • environmental monitoring
  • food and drug quality and safety
  • positioning and aiming devices, unless they represent an integral part of a diagnostic or therapeutic system.

The Technology Strategy Board is launching a competition entitled Advancing in-vivo imaging for stratified medicine in March 2013.

Proposals for projects that are focused on in-vivo imaging, including the use of photonics, should be submitted for the Advancing in-vivo imaging competition
 

Funding allocation and project details

The Technology Strategy Board has allocated up to £3.7m to fund collaborative projects that are within the scope of this competition. Projects in both strands must be collaborative, they must be led by a business, and they must include an SME. Academics can apply only as a partner in a consortium. 

The competition has two strands of investment: 
 
Strand 1, a single-stage feasibility studies competition, will focus on pre-industrial research feasibility studies that investigate novel photonics methods or principles aimed at the healthcare market.
 
These studies must be collaborative, with maximum eligible costs per project of up to £175k, and attracting up to 75% funding for business partners. They should last between six and 12 months.
 
The early involvement of end-users (industry or clinics) is highly desirable, in order to respond to their needs and requirements from the beginning, and in order to prepare for subsequent steps in development. Each project must involve at least one SME partner. 
 
Strand 2, a two-stage collaborative R&D competition, will focus on projects involving industrial research, to demonstrate and validate proven photonic methods or tools for which the proof-of-principle has already been established.
 
In all cases, the resulting demonstrators must be tested and validated in an environment close to where they will be applied (eg a clinical environment or point of care) within the term of the project. The involvement of end-users (clinics or industry) is vital for achieving the objectives of this funding strand, and it is strongly recommended.
 
Projects may be up to 24 months long, and with maximum eligible costs per project of up to £750k, attracting up to 60% funding for SMEs, or 50% funding for larger businesses. Each project must involve at least one SME partner. 
 
Applications are assessed on individual merit by an independent panel of experts. We may apply a portfolio approach across the different subject areas that this competition covers, subject to applications meeting the required quality threshold. 
 
Successful applicants can attract grant funding towards their eligible project costs. The percentage of costs that we meet varies, depending on the type of research being carried out and the type of organisation involved. 
 
Find out whether your business fits the EU definition of an SME
 
 

Application process

This competition opens on 11 March 2013.

All applicants must first register via our website, and the deadline for registration for Strand 1 is noon on 24 April 2013. The deadline for completed applications is noon on 1 May 2013.

The deadline for registration for Strand 2 is noon on 17 April 2013, and the deadline for completed expressions of interest is noon on 24 April 2013.

Register for the CRD strand 2 application process

The second stage for invited applicants opens on 13 May 2013 and the deadline for completed applications is noon on 19 June 2013.

A briefing event for both strands will be held in London on 21 March 2013, to highlight the main features of the competition and explain the application process. 
 

Key dates

Strand 1: Single-stage feasibility studies 

  • Competition opens: 11 March 2013
  • Optional briefing event: 21 March 2013
  • Deadline for registration: 24 April 2013
  • Deadline for applications: 1 May 2013
  • Applicants informed of results: 10 June 2013

Strand 2: Two-stage collaborative R&D

  • Competition opens: 11 March 2013
  • Optional briefing event: 21 March 2013
  • Deadline for registration: 17 April 2013
  • Deadline for expressions of interest: 24 April 2013
  • Applicants informed of stage one results: 10 May 2013
  • Stage two opens for invited applicants: 13 May 2013
  • Deadline for stage two applications: 19 June 2013
  • Stage two applicants informed of results: 2 August 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 to read before you apply, including the Guidance for Applicants and the application form. 

Contact details

Note: the funding rules for projects changed in September 2012. Read the general guidance on how projects are now fundedMake sure that you have checked your figures against the new rules for type and level of funding. 

Looking for partners to work on your project?

Go to _connect to find collaborators and networks.
 

Publicity

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.