Competition brief: precision medicine programme in South Africa

Updated 10 May 2017

1. Dates and deadlines

Competition opens Monday 30 January 2017
Briefing event for applicants Friday 3 February 2017
Partnering webinar for applicants Thursday 6 April 2017
Registration deadline Midday Wednesday 10 May 2017
Application deadline Midday Wednesday 17 May 2017

2. The competition scope

The aim of this competition is to develop affordable gene-based diagnostic solutions and targeted treatments for one or more of the following health challenges in South Africa:

  • diabetes
  • cardiovascular disease
  • cancer
  • child mortality

We are looking to fund collaborative projects with South African partners. Projects should develop gene-based panels that help the understanding of patient diagnosis and response to treatment. These precision medicine projects must be targeted at non-communicable diseases and at improving child health in the South African population.

Projects should consider:

  • the varied genetic makeup of the South African population
  • the public healthcare system in South Africa

Projects and their outcomes must fit with official development assistance (ODA) criteria. This aims to boost economic development and have a positive social or environmental effect on the wider South African society.

3. Projects that we won’t fund

Projects that do not fall under the challenge areas detailed in section 2 will be considered out of scope for this competition.

4. Find out if you are eligible to apply

To apply for a Newton Fund award, you must:

  • be a UK-based business acting as lead applicant
  • have at least one eligible South African research organisation or business working together with you on the project
  • show that South Africa is the principal market for the project
  • show how your project fits within ODA criteria by having a positive social, economic and/or environmental impact on the wider South African population

You can also invite other types of organisations to join your project. Please see the guidance for applicants for further information.

5. Funding and project details

Innovate UK and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) are funding this competition as part of the UK–South Africa Newton Fund programme.

In the UK, Innovate UK has allocated up to £1.5 million to fund innovation projects in this competition. Innovate UK will fund the UK project partners and SAMRC will fund project partners from South Africa.

All projects must involve at least one UK business and one South African research organisation or business. On the UK side, the project lead must be a business. The South African leads can be either a business or a research organisation.

5.1 Project types

Projects must focus on industrial research. We will consider work packages with some elements of experimental development within projects that are primarily industrial research.

For industrial research, you could get:

  • up to 70% of your eligible project costs if you are a small business
  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 50% if you are a large business

For experimental development work packages, you could get:

  • up to 45% of your eligible project costs if you are a small business
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 25% if you are a large business

Find out if your business fits the EU definition of a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME).

We expect projects to last up to 36 months. We expect them to range in size from total costs of £300,000 to £500,000 on the UK side. Information on funding for project partners from South Africa is included in the competition guidance for applicants.

6. How to apply

To apply:

We will not accept late submissions. Your application is confidential.

A panel of independent experts from the UK and South Africa will assess your proposal. We will then select the projects that we fund, to build a portfolio of projects as described in the guidance for applicants.

Also please read the general guidance for applicants. It will help your chances of submitting a quality application.

7. Background and further information

Innovate UK helps translate the UK’s innovation expertise into business solutions in emerging economies. We enable collaborative solutions to overseas socio-economic challenges. We do this by supporting British companies to establish global partnerships and exchange knowledge with organisations in some of the most dynamic markets in the world. The size, diversity and potential of South Africa’s market presents significant opportunities for innovative UK businesses.

For this reason, Innovate UK and SAMRC are funding this competition. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy leads the Newton Fund in the UK.

7.1 About the Newton Fund

The Newton Fund was established in 2014 and will operate until 2021. It is part of the UK government’s ODA commitments. It uses science and innovation partnerships to improve the economic development and social welfare of 16 partner countries, including South Africa. There is a total of £735 million funding available from the UK government for the Fund’s duration to 2021. Partner countries contribute extra matched funding.

7.2 Further help and information

To find suitable domestic and overseas partners, register on the Meeting Mojo platform and interact with other organisations that have shown an interest in this competition.

If you want help to find a project partner, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network.

If you need more information, contact the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 or email us at