A £20m fund to help manufacturers in the life sciences sector across the country has been open to applications.
The Medicines and Diagnostics Manufacturing Transformation Fund, previously announced in November 2020, was intended to help life science recruitment and development spread further across the country and create economic opportunities in a fast-moving sector.
The fund is primarily aimed at MedTech, medical diagnostics and human medicines projects which are set to cost over £8m.
All successful applicants will receive a share of the £20m fund, helping to boost innovation in a sector worth £80bn annually to the UK and has been a vital lifeline over the past year.
It is also a sector that has multiple hubs outside of London and the South East of England, with two-thirds of life sciences businesses being headquartered in the rest of the UK.
As well as this, manufacturers must be able to meet manufacturing and medical regulations, which differ depending on the end product.
For MedTech and diagnostics innovations, the device needs to meet safety and performance requirements as set by the Medical Devices Regulations. If it is not in place yet, then the application may ask how the device will be proven to meet these regulations.
On the other hand, for medicines and vaccines, the business must hold a license to produce medication, either in the form of an Investigational Medicinal Products Directive (IMP) or Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Human Medicines Directive licence.
If the business does not have either, then it must show that it is in the process of applying for and getting one of these licenses.
Given the reliance on the innovative spirit of the life sciences sector over the past year, in particular, this fund will help complement the work of life sciences accelerator funds in helping to get several innovative medical businesses off the ground.
The Application Process
The funding application process begins with five gateway questions which ensure that the project is eligible for funding to begin with before the full application form is completed.
Once the application form is completed fully then the first round of sifting begins, and the application will be rejected based on the following criteria:
- Applications that are simply ineligible or are not within the scope of the fund,
- Applications that cannot be delivered or at least appear to be undeliverable,
- Applications that do not appear financially viable.
Applications that meet these criteria will be put through to the full appraisal round, with applications prioritised by how closely they are within the scope of the fund.
At this stage, each applicant will work with a case officer, who will ask for details regarding the state of the business in relation to the applications. This includes looking at the financial state of the business and how likely they are to deliver on the project they propose.
After this, the applications will be taken to an investment board, either an internal board for the fund or the Industrial Development Advisory board for applications over £5m.
They will look specifically into the requested amounts and judge whether this is the right amount of money to help support the project.
After this, government ministers in charge of the project will look over the results of these assessments and will choose the projects that will receive grant money. Any that do will get a letter that they must respond to within ten days.