UK Regulatory Science and Innovation Networks – Discovery phase

Collaborations of UK based organisations can apply for grant funding of up to £50,000 to develop proposals for Regulatory Science and Innovation Networks in their area.

Opportunity Details


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Your collaboration’s total grant funding request for the Discovery phase must be no more than £50,000. Your total project costs will be 100% funded. We will fund up to 30 initial collaborative innovation projects in this Discovery phase competition.


Innovate UK

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Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £7.5 million, up to 2025, to support the creation of regulatory science and innovation networks across the UK. The aim of this competition is to support the development of proposals for virtual networks of expertise in regulatory science that generate research-based evidence and insights.

We define ‘regulatory science’ as the science of developing new tools and approaches that enhance regulatory decision making across product lifecycles (such as approvals, ongoing safety and performance monitoring), and support policymaking that enables agile and proportionate regulation in response to innovation.

This investment will help unlock its potential by giving organisations the capacity to collaborate in developing new tools, data sets and approaches that lead to the development of policies that best promote innovation.

This is phase one of a two phase competition; the second phase will cover Implementation. At this Discovery phase we will support projects to:

  • build relationships
  • complete background information and data gathering
  • develop a proposal for the Implementation phase

Only successful applicants at this Discovery phase will be invited to apply for the Implementation phase.

  • To lead a collaboration your organisation must be a UK registered:

    The lead organisation must not act in any way to gain selective commercial or economic advantage from the outputs of this collaboration.

    Existing regulatory science and innovation networks can apply for funding, but only to expand their focus into new areas of activity or scale up existing activities.

    To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be a UK registered:

    • business of any size
    • academic institution
    • public sector research establishment (PSRE) eligible for UKRI funding
    • independent RTO or Catapult centre eligible for UKRI funding
    • charity
    • not for profit
    • regulator
    • other public sector organisation

    An eligible organisation can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in any number of applications.

  • Your Discovery phase collaboration must:

    • start its activities by 1 March 2024
    • end its activities by 31 August 2024
    • carry out its project work in the UK

    Your proposal must include at least two organisations interested in forming a network that will serve a specific emerging technology. The organisations do not need to have worked together before and can develop their relationship during this Discovery phase.

    There should be a clear rationale for why your organisations are working together.

  • The aim of this competition is to support the development of proposals for virtual networks of expertise in regulatory science that generate research-based evidence and insights.

    We want to support organisations with the potential to advance regulatory science as a tool that helps policymakers understand, identify and assess different approaches to regulating new technologies, leading to the development of policies that best promote innovation.

    Discovery phase (this competition)

    Funding for this Discovery phase must be used to support the collaborative development of your application for the Implementation phase.

    This includes:

    • building collaborations and partnerships
    • convening discussions
    • hosting workshops
    • engaging communities
    • collaborative bid writing
    • desk research

    This list is not exhaustive.

    We will manage a support package for all potential network collaborations chosen at the Discovery phase. This will include workshops and events to assist in the development of applications for the Implementation phase and encourage networking between collaborations.

    The support package will also include some ongoing non-financial support for collaborations beyond the initial six month Discovery phase. More information about the support package will be made available to successful Discovery phase collaborations.

  • Network collaborations awarded funding at the Discovery phase will be invited to apply for the Implementation phase competition, which will open on or after August 2024. Further details about the application timeline and requirements for this phase will be released in due course.

    In the Implementation phase you must have identified all partners and have agreement on their roles in the network and how the funding will be distributed.

    Implementation phase funding must be used to invest in the capacity and capability of the network partners to deliver across four key goals:

    • building the evidence base while accelerating innovation and adoption to mitigate near-term risks and identify long-term opportunities
    • strengthening partnerships and interactions across the ecosystem on regulatory science and innovation matters
    • facilitating knowledge transfer that leads to more evidence-based policymaking around regulation for innovation
    • increasing opportunities to improve business capacity to exploit commercial opportunities

    You must develop a strategy for policy, practice and standards in your sector. This includes plans to engage government departments and regulators in those sectors, to ensure that the evidence and insights generated are influencing policy development, while maintaining strategic and operational independence.

    Areas for your network can include:

    • research to inform the needs of policymakers and regulators
    • training programmes and fellowships to upskill and provide continuous development to individuals across the regulatory system
    • support for regulators for particularly challenging assessments where the required expertise may be lacking or needs expanding
    • creating and delivering research-informed interventions, to help UK firms address their regulatory needs at both a national and international level
    • focused programmes on specific areas of regulatory science in response to priorities agreed by network stakeholders

    This list is not exhaustive.

    The organisations in your collaboration, as well as the relationships and their roles in the network can change between the Discovery and Implementation phases. However, your collaboration must involve at least half of the participants from the Discovery phase, and at least one eligible RTO in the Implementation phase.

  • We welcome proposals from collaborations across different sectors.

    We encourage proposals that align with innovation priorities identified by the UK Government, these include

    In the health and life sciences sector we encourage proposals focusing on the following themes:

    • artificial intelligence (AI) and software as a medical device
    • biotherapeutics, cell and gene therapies
    • data science
    • diagnostics and genomics
    • genomics and synthetic human biology
    • international recognition
    • in Vitro Diagnostic (IVD) regulation
    • medical technologies
    • neurotechnology
    • vaccines and immunotherapies
  • Innovate UK will hold an online briefing at 10am on Friday 15 December 2023: click here for the joining link.

    If you would like help to find a collaboration partner, contact your sector team at Innovate UK KTN (e.g. Health team).


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