Health Innovation Challenge Fund – Infection Response Systems

 Posted by  Funding
May 172011
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The fifth theme of the Health Innovation Challenge Fund is Infection Response Systems: Development and application of technology for prevention, diagnosis, intervention and control of infection.

The Challenge

Infectious diseases account for over a fifth of human deaths globally and a quarter of all morbidity. In the UK also, infection poses a constant threat to the health of the nation. Acute infections are responsible for a significant proportion of infection related mortality. Endemic and chronic infections severely affect people’s lives and present a continuing operational and financial burden on the NHS. Approximately 10% of all UK deaths and 4% of all hospital admissions are attributable to infectious diseases. Infection accounts for 35% of all GP consultations. Hospital-acquired infections cost the NHS about £1bn each year.

The Health Innovation Challenge Fund (HICF) is making available up to £15m for healthcare innovators who can offer solutions for improved detection, prediction, prevention and management of infectious disease threats and contribute to the health of the nation through better clinical management systems.

Aims and objectives include:

The Wellcome Trust and the Department of Health are inviting bids to develop multidisciplinary ‘infection response systems’ which take new technologies and apply them to healthcare systems to deliver innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to improved detection surveillance and intervention. The partners are primarily interested in proposals that provide novel technologies for the detection, diagnosis, surveillance and containment of infectious agents in both hospital and non-hospital settings – applicable either to emerging or re-emerging threats, healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) or the control of day-to-day infections.

Proposals should aim to exploit the opportunities arising from existing scientific and technical knowledge such as molecular diagnostics, molecular epidemiology, medical microbiology, genomics, e-health and data linkage and integrate them for the development and implementation of new detection, prediction, prevention and intervention strategies.

Applications utilising diagnostics, including point of care diagnostics, to identify microbial and host signatures of infection and to inform appropriate antibiotic usage and offer novel strategies for the rational use or prescription of anti-infective agents are welcomed.

Information and data management are critically important. There is a need for ‘smart’ centralised databases that ensure efficient data capture so as to develop more informative and effective surveillance systems. Comparisons of surveillance data should be achievable at a local, national, and potentially at an international level. Better integration of information infrastructures is necessary to determine the spread of infection, (including across species) and disease burden and to predict the changing environment and inform policy development

Key requirements include:

  • Proof of concept – HICF provides translational funding, so applications must provide tangible evidence of proof of concept and validation of the approach that is proposed.
  • Scalability – solutions must be scalable with good clinical epidemiology.
  • Clear articulation of project deliverables.
  • Multi-disciplinary approach – collaboration between academia, clinicians and industry is strongly encouraged.
  • Health economics benefits.
  • Regulatory & delivery timescale.
  • Practical adoption – how the approach will overcome any issues relating to adoption by health professionals and their workplaces.

About the Health Innovation Challenge Fund

The Health Innovation Challenge Fund is a parallel funding partnership between the Wellcome Trust and the Department of Health to stimulate the creation of innovative healthcare products, technologies and interventions, and facilitate their development for the benefit of patients in the NHS and beyond. The HICF will have a succession of thematic calls for proposals, each selected to focus on unmet needs in healthcare relevant to the NHS, and will support innovative developments that are within three to five years of launch or adoption.

Priorities for the HICF are:

  • encourage innovative products for patient benefit
  • improve the uptake of new technological advances into patient management pathways
  • integrate the clinical, research, informatics and product development communities.

HSC Trusts are eligible to apply to this fund or may be a collaborator in an application led by partner.

The closing date for preliminary applications is 2nd September 2011 (5pm). Full information is on the Wellcome Trust website at, from which this summary was produced.