PACE: Antibacterial Therapeutics Funding Call 2023

Innovate UK, LifeArc & Medicines Discovery Catapult partnership PACE are offering £10m grant funding & support for early phase drug discovery & diagnostic projects.

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Up to 12 applicants will be awarded a maximum of £1 million in grant funding.


PACE (Pathways to Antimicrobial Clinical Efficacy)

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PACE (Pathways to Antimicrobial Clinical Efficacy) aims to provide funding and support for high value, high risk, early phase drug discovery and diagnostic projects. We want to smooth your path to progress. We blend the right funding with the right advice and the right people to give your idea the best chance of success.

We are looking to help create and advance an exciting and diverse pipeline of preclinical phase projects aimed at treating bacterial infections with high unmet need. With this aim our first funding call will focus solely on early-stage, novel, antibacterial therapeutics. Up to 12 applicants will be awarded a maximum of £1 million in grant funding, with projects expected to last up to two years. AMR innovators worldwide are eligible to apply. Expressions of interest are invited by 24 November. Watch the funding call webinar recording, held on 31 October 2023.

PACE is not just about grant funding; we offer a truly collaborative approach to project development and delivery. Those who secure funding will feel the wider value of a network of potential project partners and receive advice and guidance from some of the best in the field. And we’re there for the long run, so whether you move to the next stage of development or aren’t successful in securing a grant this time around, you can stay plugged into our community and continue to benefit from our expert ecosystem.

  • Our funding is open to researchers in academia and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) worldwide, including consortia (Large Pharma partners permitted, but must cover own costs)​ 

    Applications should have a single lead applicant, however co-applicants are welcome. 

  • We are looking for projects directed at the highest-burden drug-resistant bacterial infections and indicationsas highlighted by the Lancet study and by the WHO priority listIn scope indications are: Lower Respiratory Tract Infections (LRTI)Bloodstream Infections (BSI)Intra-abdominal Infections (IAI); and Urinary Tract Infections (UTI).

    And projects should be directed at one or more of the following drug-resistant bacteria. They are as follows:

    Top priority

    Novel therapeutics applicable for drug-resistant bacterial infections associated with WHO critical priority Gram-negative pathogens Enterobacteriaceae (prioritising E. coli and K. pneumoniae), A. baumannii, and P. aeruginosa 

    Also eligible 

    Novel oral therapeutics applicable to drug-resistant S. aureus  

    Projects should be transformational, with the aim to fill a gap for innovative & differentiated antimicrobials in the clinical pipeline. We encourage projects that are based on the concept of precision medicine where consideration is given to potential patient stratification and diagnostics requirements. Our criteria are aligned with those of potential follow-on funders and the NICE subscription model criteria, paving a route from the bench to patient impact

  • PACE intend to fund projects looking at:

    • Hit Validation, Hit-to-Lead, Lead Optimisation, Candidate Selection and Early Preclinical phases
    • Any novel targets OR novel chemical classes including but not limited to the following mechanisms; direct-acting and non-direct acting antimicrobials, anti-virulence approaches, immunomodulatory agents, and potentiators.
    • Any modality including but not limited to small molecules, antibodies, peptides, CRISPR-Cas, complex/targeted modalities, phage.
  • What we are not looking for:

    • Projects focused solely on IND/CTA-enabling studies or clinical phase R&D
    • Target Identification, screening and Hit Identification
    • Antibiotics based on iterations of existing therapeutics e.g. β-lactams
    • Vaccines
    • Infections caused by mycobacteria (including TB), fungal and Gram-positive pathogens other than S. aureus​
    • S. aureus therapeutics that are non-oral or focussed on skin or prosthetic joint infection.
    • Projects not directly focused on antimicrobial development (e.g. diagnostics, delivery methods, biomarkers, standalone technology, model development).
  • The expression of interest will be open on our website from 19 October 2023 and a closing date of 23:59 (GMT) 24 November 2023.

    Shortlisted applicants will be invited in January to the full application stage.

    A Catalyser workshop will be available for all selected applicants to support them in developing their Full Applications.

    Final funding decisions will be communicated in June, with an expectation of project initiation within three months of receipt of the award letter.

    If you have a project that would fit the scope of this call, you can book a meeting with PACE to discuss your application.


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