UKRI Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) – Healthy Ageing Catalyst Awards 2020 Outline Stage – Call specification

UKRI Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) – Healthy Ageing Catalyst Awards 2020 Outline Stage – Call specification
Member News, Funding news


UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), via the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), is inviting outline proposals for research grants of up to £62,500 (at 100% fEC) for a period of up to 12 months.

The Healthy Ageing Catalyst Awards are part of the Healthy Ageing Challenge portfolio of activities, and are offered in collaboration with the US National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Healthy Longevity Global Grand Challenge, in order to catalyse transformative innovation and inform policies and priorities to advance healthy ageing and longevity globally.

Background and scope

In 2017, the Prime Minister announced the government’s Industrial Strategy which set out four Grand Challenges and an Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) to enable the delivery of activity addressing the identified Challenges. One of the Grand Challenges in the Industrial Strategy is Ageing Society, which seeks to harness the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society. The UK government’s mission for the Ageing Society Grand Challenge is to “ensure that people can enjoy at least five extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035, while narrowing the gap between the experience of the richest and poorest”.

Through the ISCF, UKRI has secured an investment of up to £98 million for the Healthy Ageing Challenge, which will enable businesses, including social enterprises, to develop and deliver products, services and business models that will be adopted at scale which support people as they age. The aim is to allow people to remain active, productive, independent and socially connected across generations for longer. A portfolio of activities will be delivered under the Healthy Ageing Challenge, with academic research playing a crucial role in understanding the key issues facing the older population and ways in which support and care can be delivered effectively.

Call details

The UKRI Healthy Ageing Catalysts Awards will provide £50,000 at 80% fEC for academics based at UK Research Organisations to explore new, innovative, ideas with the potential to transform the physical, mental or social well-being of people as they age. Awards will have a duration of one year. UKRI expects to make 20 awards a year in each of three consecutive annual funding calls. These Awards are part of the US National Academy of Medicine’s (NAM) Healthy Longevity Global Grand Challenge and award holders will be eligible for the later stages of that competition, including accelerator awards of up to $0.5m USD and the $5m USD Grand Prize.

Successful proposals will be expected to be:

• Innovative, that is, they should challenge existing paradigms, employ new ways of doing, or thinking about, common problems of healthy ageing (e.g. markets, products, methodologies, or concepts);

• Ambitious and impactful, that is, they should offer substantial potential future benefits to the physical, mental, or social, well-being of people as they age;

• Scalable and have broad scope, that is, the benefits of the proposed work should not be limited to certain groups, communities or areas, and should have the potential to transform the entire field of healthy ageing;

• Sustainable, that is, there is a plan to develop the proposed work beyond the timeframe of the funding;

• Difficult to fund through existing routes. This may be due to the high-risk nature of the proposed innovation, or a lack of financial support for scaling or commercialising innovations in this area, or at the applicants’ institution.

Proposals will be expected to fit with the priority areas of the ISCF Healthy Ageing Challenge:

• Sustaining physical activity;

• Maintaining health at work;

• Design for age-friendly homes;

• Creating healthy active places;

• Supporting social connections;

• Living well with cognitive impairment;

• Manging common complaints of ageing.

Examples may include, but are not limited to:

• Developing a new innovation that will benefit the public;

• Challenging age-stereotyping and shifting understandings of ageing to encourage changes in social norms, and the development of appropriate and aspirational products and services;

• Developing and scaling low-cost products and services in order to address inequality and inequity in healthy ageing;

• Innovative use of existing data to provide insight for industry, innovators and academia;

• Developing patient capital, or alternative funding models, to enable higherimpact, slower return, ventures to scale and achieve viability.

Clinical research, including drug testing and development, is not eligible for funding. The Awards can be used to fund:

• Additional research to assess the feasibility of a proposed innovation or scale-up;

• Market testing and research to bring an innovation to market;

• Market testing and research to scale an innovative idea which has been successfully trialled or implemented on a local level.

Please note, that, for the purposes of this call, a market is broadly conceived, including charity and social enterprise models, as well as commercial enterprises. Scale, meanwhile, refers to ideas that can be readily adapted to function in multiple areas, or for many groups of users. It is expected that an additional package of support will be available to grant holders. Details will be provided to successful applicants during the issuing of their award.


Proposals must be led by an academic who is based at an eligible UK research organisation and should be submitted via UKRI’s Joint electronic Submissions (Je-S) system by 16:00 (GMT) on 13th February 2020. It is expected successful projects will start in September 2020


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