UK and Canada biomanufacturing innovations in cell and gene therapies

A collaborative opportunity with the National Research Council of Canada on process improvement in biomanufacturing of gene and cell therapies.

Opportunity Details


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Your project’s total eligible costs must not exceed £128,000 over 24 months, of which up to 75% will be funded by this initiative.


Innovate UK

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Innovate UK has partnered with The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) for this funding opportunity aimed at UK SMEs.

This competition aims to identify UK partners who will bring innovative solutions to support and collaborate with the NRC Challenge Program in Health and Disruptive Technologies for Cell and Gene Therapy.

We are specifically looking for projects in the following 2 areas:

  1. Process improvement for adeno-associated virus (AAV) based gene therapy.
  2. Deploy process analytical technologies to perfusion-enabled lentiviral vector manufacturing.

Your project

Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs of up to £128,000
  • start by 1 May 2021
  • be up to 24 months in duration

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must be either a:

  • UK registered micro, small or medium sized enterprise (SME)
  • catapult
  • charity
  • not for profit organisation

Your project must:

  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK and Canada
  • carry out most of its project work in the UK

Academic institutions cannot lead.

Working in partnership with NRC

Before starting an application or being invited to join a project in the Innovation Funding Service, you must have established a partnership with an appropriate research team at NRC Canada.

If you do not name an NRC research partner, you will not be eligible for funding through this competition.

The Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) held an information sessions on 14 October 2020 (view the recording here) and we will hold a further event on 3 November 2020 (register here). At the sessions NRC researchers will explain the type of projects they are looking for. This will give you the chance to connect with the appropriate NRC counterparts before applying.

Multiple applications

Any one SME, catapult, charity or not for profit organisation can lead on one application and collaborate in a further 2 applications.

If an SME, catapult, charity or not for profit organisation is not leading an application, it can collaborate in up to 3 applications.

An academic institution can collaborate in up to 3 applications.


Scope of projects

Process improvement for adeno-associated virus (AAV) based gene therapy

Your proposal must:

  • demonstrate economical viability by coupling your proposal to more cost-effective downstream processing options than what is currently available
  • be based on transient transfection, developing improvement of serum free media or processes to increase AAV upstream yields
  • develop faster in-line, online, at-line or off-line process analytical assays to support process development
  • develop more cost effective, robust and scalable AAV particle separation methods (preferably chromatography based).

Deploy process analytical technologies to perfusion-enabled lentiviral vector (LV) manufacturing

You will have access to the perfusion-enabled high yield LV production process developed at NRC. Your proposal must show how you will develop and deploy complementary in-line monitoring technologies for real time process characterisation using:

  • capacitance frequency scanning (Aber Instruments)
  • multi-wavelength fluorometry (NRC technology)
  • Raman spectroscopy including analysis algorithms

We are looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across the above themes.

Your project must focus one or more of the following:

  1. Upstream process intensification for AAV production based on transient transfection using HEK293 cells (must be with NRC’s HEK293 cells) in suspension culture and serum free medium
  2. Development of faster analytic assays for AAV to support process improvement
  3. New cost-effective technology for AAV downstream processing
  4. Robust and scalable (preferentially chromatography based) empty/full AAV particle separation methods
  5. Semi-fully continuous downstream processing, promising higher throughput and reduced costs for AAV.
  6. Process analytical technologies for lentiviral vector manufacturing amenable to production in perfusion

We will fund feasibility studies, industrial research and experimental development projects as defined in the general guidance.

If you want help to find a project partner, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network’s health team.


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