These awards support researchers who are transforming great ideas into healthcare innovations that could have a significant impact on human health.
Level of funding:
Up to £500,000, or up to £750,000 for multidisciplinary collaborations
Duration of funding:
Usually up to 24 months, or up to 36 months for multidisciplinary collaborations
See also: Innovator Awards: Digital Technologies.
Scheme at a glance
Who can apply
Innovator Awards are open to researchers who are developing healthcare innovations that could have a major and measurable impact on human health.
Individuals and teams from not-for-profit and commercial organisations can apply. Organisations can be of any size, based anywhere in the world. Funded organisations must sign up to our grant conditions (see the template award letters in the ‘How to apply’ section on this page).
You can work in any scientific discipline, including a discipline outside life sciences. You can work on any type of technology. Examples of technologies include:
- therapeutics (small molecules or biologics)
- regenerative medicine.
The work that you propose must be essential for developing your healthcare innovation.
If you’re developing a digital healthcare innovation, you may also be interested in Innovator Awards: Digital Technologies.
Multidisciplinary collaborations and partnerships
We particularly encourage proposals from multidisciplinary collaborations within or between organisations. These collaborations do not need to include life sciences researchers.
In your proposal, you must:
- include researchers from at least two different scientific disciplines
- include at least one researcher from a discipline outside life sciences, such as (but not limited to) engineering, physical science or data science
- describe the added value of the collaboration, and tell us why the outcome(s) of your work will be unique and only achievable through this approach.
We also encourage partnerships between not-for-profit and commercial organisations. We expect most commercial organisations that partner not-for-profit organisations to provide in-kind contributions in addition to Wellcome’s funding.
If your proposal is successful and involves collaborators or partnerships, you must all enter into an agreement stating:
- who will own any IP that arises from this award
- the necessary background IP licences
- how you plan to protect, maintain and commercialise Wellcome-funded IP.
This agreement has to be in place before we will provide funding.
This agreement must be consistent with the template award letter for your organisation (see the ‘How to apply’ section on this page).
For guidance, read the university and business collaboration agreements: model heads of terms agreements(opens in a new tab) on GOV.UK.
In your proposal, you should describe:
- the global burden of the disease or condition that you want to address
- the unmet healthcare need
- the patient population that you want to reach and the impact that your healthcare innovation could have on their health
- why your healthcare innovation will be significantly better than anything that’s already available or being developed
- the evidence supporting your proof of concept
- what you will do with our funding (eg key experiments and project deliverables) to move your project on to the next stage of development
- your team’s expertise and the resources available to you
- your long-term aims beyond this award.
Past and current innovations award holders
If you’re one of our past or current innovations award holders, you can apply for an Innovator Award if you propose to develop a healthcare innovation that we haven’t funded.
Who can’t apply
You’re not eligible for an Innovator Award if your company is not established and/or doesn’t have working capital.
We won’t consider proposals for:
- incremental improvements in healthcare
- ‘blue skies’ or curiosity-driven research
- back-up or me-too drugs
- research about the distribution and uptake of healthcare innovations
- delivering health services
- public health interventions
- one-off costs that don’t include key experiments, such as manufacturing a drug substance.
We don’t usually consider proposals for phase III or IV clinical trials for therapeutics or vaccines. If you’re proposing this kind of trial, please contact us. We’ll tell you if we want you to apply.
If you’ve previously been unsuccessful in getting Wellcome funding for your healthcare innovation, you must contact us before you apply again. You can’t usually apply again unless your proposal has changed significantly.
An Innovator Award provides up to £500,000 of funding and usually lasts up to 24 months. For multidisciplinary collaborations, awards are up to £750,000 and have a duration of up to 36 months.
You should ask for a level and duration of funding that’s justifiable for your proposed activities.
Our support includes:
You can also apply for Research Enrichment funding to increase the impact of your work through activities in public engagement, open research, and diversity and inclusion.
What we don’t offer
- Salary recovery costs for staff funded full-time by the employing organisation.
- Organisational overheads and indirect costs.
- Working capital costs of commercial organisations.
- Fees for academic courses such as Master’s degrees or PhDs, and other tuition fees.
- Costs for large equipment.
- Costs for capital build or refurbishment.
We don’t fund overheads unless they’re included on this page (eg research management and support costs).
You must submit your application through the Wellcome Trust Grant Tracker (WTGT).
Stages of application
Read our application guidance
We encourage you to read the following before you apply:
- Sample full application form for Innovator Awards [PDF 309KB]
- Innovator Awards: frequently asked questions [DOCX 74KB]
- Innovator Awards: template award letter for not-for-profit organisations [DOCX 219KB] – including grant condition details
- Innovator Awards: template award letter for commercial organisations [DOCX 223KB] – including grant condition details
- Innovator Awards: template revenue sharing agreement [DOCX 414KB]
Submit your full application
You must submit your full application through Grant Tracker(opens in a new tab).
Wellcome staff will assess your proposal’s suitability and competitiveness for the scheme. You should hear if you’ve been shortlisted within three months of submitting your application.
If your application is shortlisted, it will be further assessed by independent experts from our Innovator Awards Advisory Group.
We may also seek advice or written reviews from external experts.
There are no interviews. We’ll aim to give you a decision within six months of submitting your application.
In general, we don’t usually provide specific written feedback to unsuccessful applicants.
Terms and conditions
Organisations that are successful in obtaining an Innovator Award must sign up to the grant conditions outlined in the template award letters (see stage 1 – ‘Read our application guidance’) before they can receive it.
We reserve the right to ask for an alternative or amended contract.
We require a proportional share of any financial benefits arising from any commercial exploitation of a Wellcome-funded project, as outlined in the Innovator Awards template revenue sharing agreement (see stage 1 – ‘Read our application guidance’). We waive our right (under Wellcome’s policy on consent and revenue and equity sharing) to share in the first £500,000 of net income.
We can offer companies a convertible loan agreement instead of a revenue share. If you are a company and would prefer a loan agreement, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a charitable trust, we fund companies where this furthers our aims. Awards to commercial entities are therefore subject to our Programme-related investments policy [PDF 102KB].
If you are disabled or have a chronic health condition, we can support you with the application process.
You can apply online at any time.
Shortlisting meetings happen every three months. The next one is in February 2019.
If you want us to consider your application in February 2019, submit your application by 3 January 2019 (17:00 GMT).