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Reducing the use of animals in research: apply for funding

Organisations can apply for a share of £2 million to tackle 3 challenges that help to replace, refine or reduce use of animals in research.

The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) and its sponsors have £2 million to invest in a series of challenges to reduce the use of animals in experiments.

NC3Rs is an independent scientific organisation that supports UK scientists in finding ways to replace, reduce or refine the use of animals in research.

Its CRACK IT programme invites small and medium-sized businesses and researchers to find solutions to specific challenges.

These 3 challenges are co-funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, with contributions in kind by Galvani BioelectronicsGSKMRC Harwell Institute and Sanofi Pasteur EU.

This funding competition is being delivered by Innovate UK through SBRI (the Small Business Research Initiative).

2018 CRACK IT challenges

Single or 2 phases

The challenges are run in either a single phase or 2 phases.

Single-phase challenges involve less research and mainly focus on the validation of new technologies.

Two-phase challenges require significant funding and can include research, development and validation of new technologies.


The aim of this 2-phase challenge is to develop an in vitro model of the human liver for assessment of yellow fever vaccine.

Current yellow fever vaccines are assessed in macaques. Projects should overcome the lack of ‘immune competency’ in existing in vitro models.

There is up to £100,000 to fund projects lasting up to 6 months in phase 1. Up to £1 million is available in phase 2 to support projects lasting up to 3 years.


One of the biggest challenges facing scientists is the imaging of affected joints in rheumatoid arthritis. Joint pain and inflammation in animal models can only be monitored indirectly by detecting the response to external stimuli.

The aim of this 2-phase challenge is to develop a handheld imaging device to monitor the progression of rheumatoid arthritis in conscious rodents.

There is up to £100,000 to fund projects lasting up to 6 months in phase 1. Up to £750,000 is available in phase 2 to support projects lasting up to 3 years.


This single-phase challenge aims to develop an approach or device that will accurately measure individual food intake in mice housed in groups of 3 to 5.

A measurement of food intake is an indicator of general welfare and of recovery from surgery. It is also an important measurement when carrying out studies.

Accurate measurement of feeding patterns is technically challenging, particularly when mice are housed in social groups.

Up to £100,000 is available for projects lasting up to 1 year.

Competition information

  • the 3 challenges open for applications on 10 September 2018
  • the deadline for ImmuLiver and RaTS is at midday on 7 November 2018
  • the deadline for Moshers is at midday on 14 November 2018
  • any organisation that can demonstrate a route to market for its idea can apply
  • successful projects will attract 100% funded development contracts
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