Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund: joint research and innovation

A fund to strengthen UK science and business innovation.


The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund aims to bring together the UK’s world-leading research with business to meet the major industrial and societal challenges of our time.

What is the fund?

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund provides funding and support to UK businesses and researchers. The fund is part of the government’s £4.7 billion increase in research and development over 4 years.

It is designed to ensure that research and innovation takes centre stage in the government’s Industrial Strategy.

The fund is delivered by UK Research and Innovation.

What is the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund?

Where you can get more information

Information about further challenges, future engagement activities and how to access funding for businesses will be published here as they are announced.

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If you have any questions contact customer support service on or 0300 321 4357.

The challenges

Government has worked with businesses and academics to identify the biggest core industrial challenges where:

  • the UK has a world-leading research base and businesses ready to innovate
  • there is a large or fast-growing and sustainable global market

Challenges are each aligned with the Industrial Strategy’s 4 grand challenges. New challenges that are selected to receive support will be added to this page as they are announced.

From data to early diagnosis and precision medicine

There are fatal diseases that take years to develop before they present symptoms.

Developing effective treatments - such as for pancreatic cancer, which develops on average 14 years before symptoms present - becomes progressively harder.

The challenge is to combine the wealth of data created by UK researchers with real-world evidence from our health service. That will allow industry to create new products and services that will diagnose diseases earlier and help clinicians choose the best treatment for individual patients.

This will save lives and set the UK at the forefront of a growing global market in diagnostics.

ISCF Wave 2 From data to early diagnosis and precision medicine

Healthy ageing

By 2040, one in 7 people in the UK will be aged over 75 – an increase from one in 12 today.

Staying active, productive and independent is important to our increasing numbers of older people.

The challenge is to innovate, so older people’s aspirations are met and that better, more effective care can support an independent lifestyle as they age.

In working together, the government and industry can address the challenges of ageing while capturing a growing global market.

ISCF Wave 2 Healthy Ageing

Prospering from the energy revolution

Around 80 per cent of global energy use still comes from fossil fuels. To preserve a safe and stable climate, this has to change, fast.

Countries all over the world are moving to renewable energy, with investment more than doubling over the last decade. But for the majority of our energy to be clean and affordable, we need much more intelligent systems.

Smart systems can link energy supply, storage and use, and join up power, heating and transport to increase efficiency dramatically.

By developing these world-leading systems in the UK, we can cut bills while creating high-value jobs for the future.

Transforming construction

The way we create our buildings has not changed substantially in 40 years and needs a drastic overhaul if it is to deliver the buildings that the UK needs. Construction is currently expensive, and too many buildings waste energy.

We need to transform construction so that we can create affordable places to live and work that are, safer, healthier and use less energy.

By taking a lead in the UK, we can also increase our ability to export: global demand for efficient buildings is rising rapidly, due to the pressures of urbanisation, affordability, and the need to cut emissions.

Transforming food production

The world will need 60 per cent more food by 2050 to allow us to feed 9 billion people, and demand for water is expected to rise by 20 per cent in the agriculture sector alone.

For this to be possible, the way we produce our food needs to be significantly more efficient and sustainable.

Using precision technologies we can make that a reality: transform food production while reducing emissions, pollution, waste and soil erosion.

Putting the UK at the forefront of this global revolution in farming will also deliver benefits to farmers, the environment and consumers, as well as creating growth, jobs and exports.

Transforming food production - part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

Next-generation services

Services account for almost 80 per cent of the UK economy. As technologies like artificial intelligence and data analytics become ubiquitous, we need to ensure UK service sectors are primed.

Pioneer funding will help service industries to identify how the application of these technologies can transform their operations.

This will help to put UK service industries at the forefront of developing and using innovation.

Audiences of the future

Immersive technologies such as virtual, augmented and mixed reality are changing how we experience the world around us – from entertainment and art, to shops and classrooms.

The challenge is to bring creative businesses, researchers and technologists together to create striking new experiences that are accessible to the general public.

This can create the next generation of products, services and experiences that will capture the world’s attention and position the UK as the global leader in immersive technologies.

ISCF Wave 2 - Audiences of the future

Quantum technologies

We will invest in pioneer funding for quantum technologies of up to £20 million, recognising the impact this could have across a number of challenge areas.

A new set of products from medical devices to sensors and safer communication systems may be possible using the emerging physical science known as quantum technology. The potential is huge, but still largely in the lab environment.

Pioneer funding will bring new disruptive businesses together with existing ones to understand how this emerging technology can be turned into products that will underpin industry in the future.

ISCF Wave 2 - Quantum Technology

Robots for a safer world

Robotics and artificial intelligence has the potential to grow national productivity, create a more resilient society, enable safer, leaner working practices and improve quality of life. It could revolutionise our public services and infrastructure, and hugely benefit industries such as nuclear energy, offshore energy, deep mining and space.

The challenge aims to:

  • create a safer working world for people
  • improve productivity
  • support advances in industry and public services

Government will invest £93 million over 4 years to develop new technologies and systems that can be deployed in extreme environments. This will reduce uncertainty and de-risk research and innovation in advanced robotics, and unlock access to global markets, estimated to be worth $1.7-$4.5 trillion by 2025.

Robots for a Safer World Challenge – part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

Leading-edge healthcare

Life sciences manufacturing delivers almost 9% of the UK’s manufacturing GVA, 80% of which is pharmaceuticals. Yet, exports and productivity have been declining in recent years.

At the same time, we are faced with the challenge of manufacturing many different types of medicines, and getting the right drugs and treatments to individual patients when they need them.

Government will invest £181 million over 4 years in the areas of advanced therapies, medicines and vaccines development and manufacturing, as well as developing novel digital health products and technologies. Importantly, it will speed up patient access to new medicines.

The Accelerating Innovative Medicines Challenge - part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

Faraday battery challenge

To improve air quality for people in the UK and cut emissions, government’s clean growth strategy commits to ending the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040.

The automotive industry is now faced with the challenge of transitioning from internal combustion engines to full electrification and zero emission - a market that is estimated to be worth £5 billion in the UK and £50 billion across Europe by 2025.

To power the next generation of electric vehicles, we need cost-effective, high performance, durable, safe, low weight, and recyclable batteries.

This challenge will support the design, development and manufacture of batteries for the electrification of vehicles. It will tackle air pollution, as well as enable UK businesses to make the most of the opportunities presented by the low carbon economy.

Government will invest £246 million over 4 years in research, development and scale-up facilities. The potential GVA to the UK economy is estimated to be £33 billion each year up to 2050.

The Faraday Challenge – part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

Self-driving vehicles

Government will use the fund to invest in collaborative research and development projects to develop the next generation of AI and control systems need to ensure the UK is at the forefront of the driverless cars revolution.

Manufacturing and materials

The fund will develop new, affordable, light-weight composite materials for aerospace, automotive and other advanced manufacturing sectors.

Satellites and space technology

A satellite test facility will be established. This will support new launch technologies, manufacturing and testing capabilities to construct future satellites and deliver payloads into orbit.

Our blogs

  1. Innovate UK: find out more about how we work

    • News story
Published 8 May 2017
Last updated 4 April 2018 + show all updates
  1. Updated 2 challenges - audiences of the future and quantum technologies - to include links to new announcements of funding. Added short videos for both challenges that outline the opportunities.
  2. Updated 2 challenges, from data to early diagnosis and precision medicine and healthy ageing to include links to the latest announcements of funding. Added short videos for both challenge areas outlining the opportunities.
  3. Added explanation and link where industry-led consortia can submit their ideas for the third wave of challenges to be funded.
  4. Updated food production challenge to include links to latest announcement of funding of £90 million. Added a video outlining the challenge opportunity.
  5. Added 3 videos of funded projects under the leading-edge healthcare challenge, with Neurofenix, FundamentalVR and MeiraGTx. Added video about the battery facility being created under Faraday battery challenge.
  6. Updated page to create collection sections for each of the challenge areas and added more detail, including new videos for Faraday Battery Challenge and robotics and AI in extreme environments. Added 8 new challenges for the Industrial Strategy white paper: 'Data to early diagnosis and precision medicine', 'Healthy ageing', 'Transforming construction', 'Prospering from the energy revolution', 'Transforming food production: from farm to fork', 'Next generation services', 'Audiences of the future' and 'Quantum technology'.
  7. Updated latest competitions. Added section and news story for funded projects.
  8. Updated latest competitions.
  9. Updated latest competitions.
  10. Updated latest competitions.
  11. Updated latest competitions.
  12. Updated latest news and competitions.
  13. Updated news stories.
  14. Updated latest competitions.
  15. Clarified the core industrial challenges as identified by government, businesses and academics.
  16. First published.