Collaborative research:

IB Catalyst

Round 3 call status: Open

Expression of interest (Early-stage Translation, Industrial Research, Experimental Development)

Registration deadline: Closed
Application deadline: 4 March 2015

Feasibility studies (Early-stage feasibility & Late-stage pre-experimental feasibility)

Registration deadline: 13 May 2015
Application deadline: 20 May 2015


Together with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Innovate UK (the new name for the Technology Strategy Board) we are committed to supporting the development and commercialisation of innovative Industrial Biotechnology (IB) processes (see strategic plan in related links) arising from the UK's excellent research base.

To register the lead partner must register via the competition website (see external links).

Together with EPSRC and Innovate UK, we plan to commit up to £40M in 2015-16 for R&D to address one or more of the major challenges using biological processes, or processes in which biological and chemical approaches are used in combination to support:

Scientific objectives

Projects should address one or more of the following challenges using biological processes, or processes in which biological and chemical approaches are used in combination:

Funding streams

This call will be awarded through five funding streams across early-, mid- and late-stage research categories.

Early-stage awards

Projects which translate discoveries enabling development of IB processes and technologies, or feasibility projects which explore the commercial potential of an early-stage scientific idea.

Early-stage translation awards

Academic research and development projects that aim to translate research discoveries to enable the development of IB technologies and processes.

To apply visit: Early-stage translation award
For more information: Early stage translation awards guidance

Early-stage feasibility awards

Academic or business-led collaborative projects that enable the exploration/evaluation of the commercial potential of an early-stage innovative idea.

To apply visit: Early-stage pre-industrial feasibility studies
For more information: Early stage pre-industrial feasibility studies guidance

Industrial research awards

Projects which build on recent discoveries to develop new technologies or processes for industrial biotechnology and/ or bringing together different components of a process to establish with reasonable certainty that it could be run commercially.

To apply visit: Industrial research awards
For more information: Industrial research awards guidance (PDF)

Late-stage awards

Projects which demonstrate the performance and reliability of a new or modified process to the point where the process could be implemented commercially. Projects will have already proven their effectiveness at bench and/or pilot scale.

Pre-experimental feasibility studies

Pre-experimental feasibility studies are a precursor to projects wishing to move to experimental development. They allow companies to test their proven process at a greater scale of operation or with commercially equivalent equipment for the first time.

To apply visit: Late-stage pre-experimental feasibility awards
For more information: Late-stage awards guidance (PDF)

Experimental development

Experimental development projects will occur at commercial scale operation and be the last step prior to commercial implementation. They should demonstrate that performance seen previously e.g. pre-experimental feasibility studies, is repeatable during extended testing.

To apply visit: Late-stage experimental development awards
For more information: Late-stage awards guidance (PDF)


Academic eligibility

Applicants applying for our or EPSRC funding must meet either our or EPSRC's standard eligibility requirements. Please see:

Applicants and research organisations that do not meet our or EPSRC's eligibility requirements may be eligible for support from Innovate UK. Please visit Innovate UK's website for more information.

For queries relating to academic eligibility, please contact:

Business eligibility

Standard Innovate UK eligibility rules apply, as described in their grants eligibility criteria. Visit the Innovate UK's funding rules guidelines page regarding state-aid definitions.

Overseas partners can participate as collaborative partners in projects but are not eligible for UK funding unless they are UK registered and the work they are delivering will be performed in the UK. Alternatively, they may participate as subcontractors to a UK partner, providing it can be proven that the skill or service they are providing is not otherwise available in the UK.

How to apply

The lead partner must have registered via the competition website (see external links).

If you require further information or have a query regarding this competition, please contact the Innovate UK Business Support Group Helpdesk, email:, or tel: 03003 214357.

We and Innovate UK have appointed a coordinator who can advise on the scope of applications submitted to the IB Catalyst and facilitate the development of new collaborations. Contact information for the IB Catalyst Coordinator can be found below.

Briefing workshops

Two applicant briefing workshops were held for the first call. These workshops provided information on the background and scope of the IB Catalyst, the application criteria and process as well as information on the different funding streams. They also offered optional support and networking activities with potential collaborators as well as relevant staff from BBSRC, EPSRC, Innovate UK, and the IB Catalyst Co-ordinator. The workshop is available to view as a webinar: Innovate UK website: workshop.

External contact

Dr Adrian Higson, IB Catalyst Co-ordinator

Tel: +44 (0)1904 562656