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Funding Opportunities at Wellcome. Fiona MacLaughlin Heather Chaffey. The Wellcome Trust. independent research-funding charity largest charity in UK established 1936 founder of company that developed AZT, FMD and Rubella funded from private endowment valued at £15 billion (March 2008)

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funding opportunities at wellcome

Funding Opportunitiesat Wellcome

Fiona MacLaughlin

Heather Chaffey


The Wellcome Trust

  • independent research-funding charity
  • largest charity in UK
  • established 1936
  • founder of company that developed AZT, FMD and Rubella
  • funded from private endowment valued at £15 billion (March 2008)
  • managed for long-term stability and growth
  • interests range from science to history of medicine

Mission and strategy

“To foster and promote research with the aim of improving human and animal health”

basic organisational structure
Basic Organisational Structure

Science Funding

Technology Transfer


Capital growth

of endowment

Programme related


Creative Research

Equity & Equity Long/Short

Absolute Return & Buyout

Healthcare & Venture

Property & Infrastructure Private Equity

‘To foster and promote research with the aim of improving human and animal health’


Wellcome Trust


  • spend up to £4bn over next 5 years
  • how we work:
    • people & ideas - focus on individuals
    • programmes - big & brave grants
    • places - fund where we can make a difference
    • partnership - strategic partnerships
  • a committed funder of translational research
  • public engagement that aims to create an informed climate within which biomedical science can flourish

Improving innovation

Translational medicine

Key to an innovative healthcare and

pharmaceutical industry we must:

  • develop bench to bedside – bedside to bench approaches
  • optimize academia & industry links
  • develop innovative public private partnerships
  • reinvigorate undergraduate medical curriculum
  • provide flexible training routes
  • streamline approval processes

Dr Heather Chaffey

Grants Adviser, Neuroscience & Mental Health

Grants Management Department

(t) +44 (0)20 7611 8786



What we fund

Funding schemes

General information

The application process - background & tips

what do we fund
What do we fund?

Biomedical and Veterinary Research

Technology Transfer Activities

History of Medicine Research

Biomedical Ethics Research

Public Engagement Activity

Direct Activities (e.g. Sanger Institute)

expenditure in ireland
Expenditure in Ireland

Dublin City University £626,051

Other Institutions £121,500

University College Dublin £2,912,892

National University of Ireland £150,169

University College Cork £1,202,081

Royal College Surgeons £1,830,699



Trinity College Dublin £9,479,227

funding schemes
Funding Schemes

Response - Mode Funding

Strategic Award Funding


eligibility requirements
Hold a research post in an eligible organisation

Have 5 years postdoctoral research experience

Must be able to sign up to the Trust’s grant conditions

Eligibility Requirements
project grants
Project Grants

High-quality, hypothesis-driven research

Salaries for 1-2 posts plus equipment, travel and materials for up to 3 years

Awards in the region of £150-£400k.

Support for pilot studies and international collaborations

programme grants
Programme Grants
  • Internationally competitive research programmes
  • Proven track record of research and funding.
  • Salaries for 3-4 posts for 5years plus equipment, travel & materials
  • Awards typically in the region of £900k-£1.5m

Internationally competitive research programmes

Broader aims - flexibility

Principal Applicant needs proven

track record of research and funding

Salaries for 3-4 posts, plus

equipment, travel and materials, for five years.

Awards typically in the region of


other schemes
Other Schemes
  • Equipment, Biomedical Resources & Technology Development Grants
  • Flexible Travel Awards: Sabbaticals

Strategic Awards

  • Flexible forms of support to facilitate research &/or training.
  • To 'add value' to excellent research groups.
  • Must involve a partnership with the host institution.
  • Normally for 5 years.
  • Open rolling call for proposals but the Trust may highlight particular areas of research.
strategic themed initiatives
Strategic & Themed Initiatives

African Institutions Initiative

Medical Engineering

Genome-wide Association Studies in Disease

Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases

Capital Awards in Biomedical Science


Personal Support Schemes



Principal Research Fellowships


Senior Research Fellowships

Senior Research Fellowships

University Awards

Flexible Travel


Research Career Re-Entry



Research Career Development Fellowships

Intermediate Clinical Fellowships

Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowships

Research Training Fellowships


4 Year PhD Programmes

PhD Programmes


Personal Support Schemes – Biomedical Scientists

Senior Research Fellowships

Research Career Development Fellowships

Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowships


Personal Support Schemes – Clinical Scientists

Senior Research Fellowships

Intermediate Clinical Fellowships

Research Training Fellowships

other personal support schemes
Other Personal Support Schemes
  • Flexible Travel Awards: Fellowships
  • Research Career Re-entry Fellowships
  • University Awards

What funding do we provide?

  • Directly incurred costs of research. We do not fund on a proportion of fEC
  • Travel allowances
  • Flexible funding allowance
  • We also fund some additional costs, including:
    • animal house facility fEC charge out rates
    • open access publishing
    • national and international resources

The Application Process

Good idea!

Preliminary application

Short-listing for full applications

Full Application

4 – 6 months

Expert peer-review

Funding Committee

Short-listing for interviews

Interview Committee



A ‘Good’ Application

  • A strong and original central hypothesis
  • Evident knowledge of the area and appropriate expertise
  • Clear research plan/easy to understand
  • Convincing preliminary data
  • Not over- or under- ambitious
  • All staff, equipment & animals carefully justified
  • Seek advice!

“ involves techniques with which the applicant appears to have no prior experience and for which no preliminary data are proposed.”

“...the work described in this application is over-ambitious, it could not be achieved in the life time of the investigator.”

“The poor writing, referencing and proof reading of this application significantly detract from its overall quality.”

“I had only one problem with this application, I had no idea what they were trying to do...”


Peer Review Assessment

  • Importance of the problem
  • Strengths and weaknesses of application
  • - quality of science, feasibility
  • Standing of applicants – track record
  • Resources requested – are they appropriate?
  • Fellowships: person, project, place

Thank you!

Dr Heather Chaffey

Grants Management Department




To maximise the impact of research

innovations on health by facilitating

their route to the ‘market’

  • early-stage R&D funder
  • focused on funding gaps
  • motivated by public good
translational funding
Translational Funding

Creative research

Applied Research


Sales / Marketing

Government / Philanthropic grants



Venture Capital

Private equity / public markets

Publication / Grants

Charitable mission

Sustainable advantage

Sustainable business


technology transfer history
Technology Transfer History
  • 1995 - Intellectual Property and Industrial Relations worked with Cancer Research Campaign Technology
  • 1997 – Catalyst BioMedica Limited, wholly owned trading subsidiary with own £20 Million fund
  • 2003 – Technology Transfer Division with Translation Awards Fund

Medical Engineering

  • Joint initiative with the Engineering and Physical Sciences
  • Research Council
  • £41 M for four centres of excellence
  • Leeds University (John Fisher)
  • Focus on ageing in relation to early diagnosis & improved
  • prostheses for musculo-skeletal & cardiovascular disease
  • Oxford University (Lionel Tarassenko)
  • Focus on personalised treatment in chronic conditions such
  • as asthma, diabetes & cancer using telemedicine technology
  • Imperial College (Ross Ethier)
  • Focus on the management of osteoarthritis through improved
  • implants and tissue engineering approaches
  • Kings College, London (Reza Razavi)
  • Focus on medical imaging in cardiovascular disease and
  • cancer for improved visualisation to guide targeted therapy
what types of opportunity are charities looking for
Projects that relate to their mission

Usually disease-focused

Sometimes problem-oriented

Always fulfil an unmet need

Offer solutions that are ‘fit for purpose’

Projects at the appropriate stage

Different charities engage at various stages

Fund-raising charities are more patient-oriented

Many charities look for leverage of their funds

What types of opportunity are charities looking for ?

Gradient of unmet need guides where we engage

‘Neglected ‘Orphan ‘Niche ‘Speciality ‘Blockbuster

Diseases’ diseases’ market’ medicine’ drug’

$100M <$500M >$500M

malaria cystic fibrosis lupus melanoma antidepressants

leishmaniasis Gauchers MS osteoporosis pain

Chagas Turners syndrome necrolepsy dermatitis cholesterol control











Medical Devices





Diversity of Translation Award scheme

Applications received

Awards made

venture philanthropy versus private financing

Charity aims don’t keep changing

Financial return is not the priority

Charities are well informed & well connected

Charity backing gives a company good PR


Cultural differences may lead to tensions

Conflicts of interest can be tricky to manage

Shareholders need to understand the implications

Venture Philanthropy versus Private Financing?
value of philanthropic funding
Value of Philanthropic funding?

“Increase number of scientists who can translate drug discoveries into effective new medicines”

“One proven route to [drug discovery] is innovation forged through synergistic industrial-academic collaborations”

“Enhance drug R & D efforts in non-profit institutes”

funding in europe inc r of ireland
Funding in Europe (inc. R. of Ireland)
  • Strategic mode
  • Institutions/registered company
  • SDDI – follow usual route
  • Translation award – invite only

Strategic Translational funding Ireland

  • Core to the Trust’s own initiatives and objectives
  • Exceptional science
  • Trusts investment is of the order necessary to achieve programme goals thus no financial ceiling (within reason!)
  • Co-funding is welcome
  • Invite only (except SDDI)
  • Funding meetings approximately every 12 weeks
  • No small-molecule therapeutic programmes
  • Work in partnership with the Trust to achieve the commercial translation of targeted technologies
key criteria
Key Criteria
  • Ultimate healthcare benefit and impact
  • Scientific rationale and evidence
  • Competitive advantage / differentiation
  • Downstream feasibility, risks identified
  • Background assets and new assets for exit
  • Competencies and skills for implementation
typical process
Typical Process

Preliminary Application:Invitation

Full application


/ Technical

Risk analysis

IP / Legal

Expert Opinions



Due Diligence

Patent position




Tech Transfer Challenge Committee


Tech Transfer Strategy Panel


application should have



….feasibility, team, market

....feasibility, validation



….timings, content,


….awareness, preparation

Full Application



….current assets,

potential new IP

….informing clinical practice



….model, revenue generation,

further funding requirements

….competitive advantage,


Application should have..

The Seven Deadly Sins

  • Poor project plan
  • Lack of key expertise/experience
  • Unclear competitive advantage
  • Unrealistic commercial exit
  • Under-resourced project
  • Major product development hurdles
  • Weak scientific rationale

“A few misconceptions”

“……you won’t fund companies”

Wrong - >£35M committed since 2003 with approximately 50:50 academia: company settings

“……of course the Trust will want to have some ownership of IP arising from the project”

No. The IP is owned by the university or company.

“….you only fund projects arising from Trust funded research”

No. We look to fund the best projects from any background

“....only interested in Biology”

Wrong. Technology Transfer has a history of funding projects ranging from computation

through to devices

irish projects funded to date
Irish projects funded to date

Louise Kenny

Phil Baker

Jim McLaughlin

John Anderson

Development of a metabolite biomarker-based screening test to predict pre-enclampsia

The VitalSens wireless vital signs monitor

Neil Frankish

Preclinical and clinical development of novel indanes as therapeutic agents for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease

Liam Marnane

Development and validation of clinically robust neonatal seizure detection systems (based on neonatal EEG)

devices vital signs monitor
DevicesVital Signs Monitor


VitalSens Vital Signs Monitor for hospital use


Jim McLaughlin, John Anderson, Michael Caulfield, ST&D


Non-invasive patient worn monitor

Five Vital Signs : ECG, respiration rate, skin temperature, gait, SpO2

Data transmission via hospital wireless networks

devices neonatal seizure detection
DevicesNeonatal Seizure Detection


Development and validation of clinically robust, neonatal

seizure detection systems


Liam Marnane, Geraldine Boylan, Gordon Lightbody

Janet Rennie


Signal processing system using ECG, EEG

Adapt for use in neonates

Clinically test – avoid complex clinical data analysis

devices stepwise innovation
DevicesStepwise Innovation
  • World’s first fully portable video laryngoscope
  • Pioneering Design
  • Substantial Market
  • Existing equipment 1940’s based
diagnostics re profiling platform technologies
Diagnostics Re-profiling platform technologies


The rapid and selective detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis by field deployable thermochemolysis gas chromatograph mass spectrometry

Strategic Features

Space research meets tropical medicine

WT had funded Beagle mission



Pheromone baited traps for Sand-fly vectors

  • Objective
  • Field feasibility trial of synthetic sex pheromone analogue
  • of Sand-flies
  • Team
  • Gordon Hamilton
  • Features
  • High efficiency trap
  • Minimise spread of leishmaniasis
device injectable bone
DeviceInjectable Bone


Translating a new concept in injectable scaffolds into a regenerative medicine product



Enabling TechnologySuperior Coatings

  • Objective
  • High throughput microarrays for discovery of polymers resistant to bacterial colonisation
  • Team
  • MorganAlexander
  • Martyn DaviesPaul Williams
  • Bob Langer
  • Dan Anderson
  • Hospital acquired infections are associated with implanted medical devices and more than 80%
  • are due to the formation of biofilms
therapeutic nanotechnology


Development of heavy tamponades in vitreo-retinal



Michael Garvey

device spider silk technology for meniscal repair
DeviceSpider silk technology for meniscal repair


Development and evaluation of a bio-resorbable, load-bearing,

tissue regenerative meniscal cartilage implant


Nick Skaer, Orthox Ltd

Silkworm silk fibres are dissolved in bulk. Super strong and resilient tissue

scaffolds (Spidrex® can be made by emulating spiders spinning techniques.

Prototype Orthox device matches target mechanical properties and supports

cell growth, osteo-inductive and shows bone deposition 8 weeks in vivo





Industry partnerships


VC-backed biotech past

years 3-9 months 6-12 months 12-24 months 12 months

Assay Development

Lead Optimisation

Pre-clinical Evaluation

Target Discovery

‘Hit to lead

IND filing

Functional genomics


In vitro / in vivo disease association

Pharmacokinetic / dynamics

Toxicology package

Process development

Small scale GMP manufacture

1° and 2ry assay development

Screening strategy

Structural genomics

Medicinal chemistry optimisation

Biochemical / ADMET assays

In vitro / in vivo pharmacology

“To develop drug-like, small molecules that will be the springboard for further R & D by the biotech and pharmaceutical industry in areas of unmet medical need”


Seeding Drug Discovery Portfolio

Emerging Small Molecule Drug Discovery Portfolio


Drug DiscoveryNew Drug: Old Target


Development of highly selective β-1 adrenoceptor antagonists

for therapeutic application in patients with concomitant

respiratory and cardiovascular disorders


Jillian Baker

Steve Hill

Barry Kellam

Peter Fischer


The Problem and the Market

“In 2004, total U.S. sales of beta blockers were approximately $1.9 billion, a 20% increase over 2003 sales. The market leader is AstraZeneca’s Toprol XL (metoprolol). Total U.S. sales of Toprol XL in 2004 were approximately $1.2 billion”

If 1% population should be on a b-blocker but cannot be because of side effects = $ 190 million in sales (2003 data)


Will market use the product?


Longevity of safety and efficacy data

translation funding to date
Translation funding to date


£419 million leveraged

10 exits via M&A/listing or licensing

6 products launched


180 projects supported

Range: £25K - £11.2M

£229 million committed


Dr Fiona MacLaughlin

Senior Business Analyst

Technology Transfer Division

(t) +44 (0)20 7611 8310



Funding Mechanisms

Managing Wellcome Trust-funded Intellectual Property: Revenue/Equity Sharing

funding terms and conditions
Funding Terms and Conditions
    • Funding Agreement aligning with principles of Grant conditions
    • Trust leads on exploitation of commercialisable assets
  • SME
    • Unsecured Convertible loan (Equity conversion at 20% discount to next professional investment round)
    • Repayment options at Trust discretion (LIBOR + 2%)
    • Milestone / royalties based deals
    • Step in rights to ensure achievement of charitable mission
  • OTHER (based on circumstance)
    • Bespoke

Key Aims of IP Management

  • Achieve health care benefits
  • Promote & Maintain supportive environment for future biomedical research
    • Encourage open & innovative approach
    • Partnerships of funders, scientists, institutions and companies

Managing IP from Trust Grants

  • Wellcome Trust IP Policy & Grant Conditions
  • IP to vest in Host-Institution / University
  • Systems for identifying and managing IP
  • Incidental private benefit only
  • Appropriate way to achieve public benefit?
    • Case-by-case
    • IP protection?: Patent filing
    • Unprotected access?: Publication of research results
    • Need to attract follow-on R&D funding? (VCs; Pharma)
    • No reputational risk to Trust

Revenue / Equity Sharing

  • Trust sole funder: revenue / equity share applies to the total gross income / equity received
  • Trust not sole funder: revenue / equity share applies pro-rata to gross income / equity received taking into account:
    • Inventive contribution of inventors
    • Proportionate funding contributions of Trust, Institution and third party funders
    • Importance / value of respective funding contributions to the deal

Dr Fiona MacLaughlin

Senior Business Analyst

Technology Transfer Division

(t) +44 (0)20 7611 8310