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£1.5 million to find new ways to reduce infection spread

Companies and research groups with innovative ideas will get a chance to shape the way the UK responds to infection, and bid for funding, through a new initiative.

Credit: ClaudioVentrella, iStock, Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Two ‘sandpit’ events are being held in Liverpool on 14 March 2024 and London on 9 May 2024.

These intensive innovation workshops will help to spark ideas, foster innovation and create new collaborations to tackle this urgent challenge and drive forward new projects.

The sessions are being funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) but run by the Infection Innovation Consortium (iiCON), a consortium led by Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

Radical new approaches

It complements UKRI’s flagship tackling infections programme, which funds cross-disciplinary ways of dealing with both antimicrobial resistance and epidemic preparedness.

Both sandpits will find radical new approaches by engaging new communities, like engineers, social scientists, the food chain and environmental innovators, with the challenge.

Key health challenges of our time

Professor Janet Hemingway, founding director of iiCON, said:

Combatting the transmission of infection is one of the key health challenges of our time, and one that is growing in urgency.

As such, it’s critical that we leverage novel, disruptive technology to drive forward our collective efforts to tackle the spread of infection.

We are particularly keen to engage individuals and companies who have not previously worked in this area.

We hope this exciting programme will spark the formation of new cross-disciplinary networks and support participants to shape the future direction of our response to infection transmission – bringing forward novel concepts and approaches that may hold the key to unlocking this critical issue.

Bringing together research communities

The programme is supported with £1.5 million funding from UKRI to bring new research communities together and support feasibility studies.

The sandpits will shape the funding opportunity for awards of £50,000 to £150,000 to test disruptive approaches to tackling infections.

Network support grants of up to £50,000 will also be available.

The development of new antibiotics and companion diagnostics are out of scope for the new fund, as these are covered by the recently announced Pathways to Antimicrobial Clinical Efficacy initiative.

Find out more

Find out more about the programme and register your interest to take part in the sandpit events.

Further information

About tackling infections

Through our five-year strategy, transforming tomorrow together 2022 to 2027, UKRI aims to harness the full power of the UK’s research and innovation system to tackle large-scale, complex challenges.

To do this, we have identified five strategic themes to enable working across disciplines and leveraging new and existing investment and activity.

Tackling infections is one of the themes. It will bolster our national defence and response capabilities by tackling infectious diseases that pose threats to people, livestock, crops and natural resources in more integrated and innovative ways.

In particular, we aim to better prepare for future disease epidemics and more effectively tackle the slow-moving pandemic of antimicrobial resistance.

About iiCON

iiCON is a global collaborative infectious disease research and development programme established in 2020 and founded with government funding provided through UKRI’s flagship Strength in Places Fund.

It brings together industry, academia, and the NHS in a concerted effort with a clear aim: to combat the growing global threat posed by infectious diseases and save lives through collaborative innovation.

iiCON is led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine with consortium partners:

  • Unilever
  • LifeArc
  • Liverpool University Hospitals Foundation Trust
  • University of Liverpool
  • Evotec
  • Infex Therapeutics

iiCON is working on a number of innovative and ambitious programmes to accelerate the discovery, development, and deployment of innovative new anti-infectives, diagnostics, and preventative products across iiCON’s 11 specialist research platforms.

Find out more about iiCON.


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