Research laboratory

Funding Opportunities for Innovators

There are a variety of funding options available to support healthcare innovators, whether you’re a clinical innovator, SME, or larger organisation. Below is an overview of the funding competitions that support healthcare diagnostics, device and technology development in the UK.

Last updated: 29  July 2022


The National Institute for Health Research: Various, open

The NIHR commissions and funds health, public health and social care research that is essential for improving the health and wealth of the nation.

NIHR research funding programmes span the research innovation pathway, from innovation and product development to evaluative research including large-scale clinical trials and post marketing studies.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are eligible to apply to a number of NIHR funding programmes, either as a lead applicant, or a co-applicant with an academic or clinical partner.


NIHR Invention for innovation (i4i):

The NIHR invention for Innovation (i4i) Programme is dedicated to supporting and advancing the development of innovative healthcare technologies. Its Connect funding stream is specifically designed for SMEs in need of a funding boost to reach the next stage in the development pathway.

As a translational funding scheme, i4i advances healthcare technologies, devices and interventions for increased patient benefit in areas of existing or emerging clinical need. They fund collaborative R&D projects in medtech SMEs, universities and the NHS that demonstrate proof-of-principle and have a clear pathway towards adoption and commercialisation. The aim is to de-risk projects, making them attractive to follow-on funders and investors.


NIHR EME: The Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) Programme: Open

This programme funds ambitious studies evaluating interventions with potential to make a step-change in the promotion of health, treatment of disease and improvement of rehabilitation or long-term care. EME is a partnership between the MRC and NIHR.


NIHR HTA: The HTA Programme: Open

This programme funds research into the clinical and cost effectiveness and broader impact of healthcare treatments and tests for those who plan, provide or receive care in the NHS. HTA research is undertaken where some evidence already exists to show that a technology can be effective and this needs to be compared to the current standard NHS intervention to see which works best.


Innovate UK: Open

If you’re a UK-based business or research organisation, you may be able to compete for government-backed funding to research and develop a process, product or service; test your innovation ideas; and collaborate with other organisations


The Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI): Open

The Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) is a well-established process to connect public sector challenges with innovative ideas from industry, supporting companies to generate economic growth and enabling improvement in achieving government objectives. SBRI provides innovative solutions to challenges faced by the public sector, leading to better public services and improved efficiency and effectiveness. It generates new business opportunities for companies, provides small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) a route to market for their ideas and bridges the seed funding gap experienced by many early-stage companies. It supports economic growth and enables the development of innovative products and services through the public procurement of research and development (R&D).


BBSRC standard research grant: Open

You can apply for research grants at any time in any area within the remit of BBSRC. BBSRC funds research in plants, microbes, animals (including humans), and the tools and technology underpinning biological research from the level of molecules and cells, to tissues, whole organisms, populations and landscapes.


Life Sciences Innovative Manufacturing Fund (LSIMF): Open

This fund supports businesses investing in life sciences manufacturing projects in the UK.


UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund Deadline: Open

The UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund (formerly known as The Rainbow Seed Fund) is a £27.1m early-stage venture capital fund building and growing technology companies stemming from the UK’s research base.

Regional AHSN’s are also well-placed to provide advice on funding opportunities for healthcare innovators and often provide a free funding support service. Wessex AHSN has produced a really useful interactive funding map that gives more detail on the different funding streams available.

Find out more about how we help innovators including clinical innovatorsacademic collaboratorsSMEs and large multinational organisations.

New innovations in healthcare can only make a difference once they are adopted. But, before they can be used in patient care, they must be proven to be safe and effective at solving an unmet need. Innovators of all sizes must prove the efficacy and value of their new solutions through the creation of research and evidence, before they take their innovation to market.

It’s a familiar problem for innovators who often invest significant time and money in product development, only to struggle to gain market traction once launched because of the necessary evidential thresholds expected by healthcare providers before adopting a new device, technology or software solution.