£10 million research competition launched to tackle antimicrobial resistance

The Department of Health and Social Care is announcing the launch of a £10 million research competition to fund innovations to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in humans.

AMR, which includes bacterial resistance to existing antibiotics, is on the rise and poses a significant threat to health across the world. Without a better understanding of how to tackle and prevent AMR, treatable infections could become life-threatening and the advancements made in modern medicine over recent decades are at risk of being reversed.

The competition follows the announcement of £30 million to fund research and development projects as part of the Global AMR Innovation Fund (GAMRIF) in May 2018 with CARB-X, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), the Argentinian government, and Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

The £10 million will be made available in research grants funded through a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI). It is being run by Innovate UK on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care, with the aim of supporting the implementation of the UK Five Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy.

In 2016, a government-commissioned review by Lord Jim O’Neill highlighted the need for more research and development to reduce the global threat of AMR – prompting the government to commit to an additional investment of up to £55 million over 5 years from 2016/17 towards promoting excellence in AMR research and development in the UK.

Today’s competition, which makes available a maximum of £10 million in funding to successful bids, forms part of funding announced in October 2017 at the global ‘Call to Action’ conference by the Wellcome Trust, the UN Foundation, and the UK, Ghanaian and Thai governments, to accelerate action in this area.

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, said:

Antimicrobial resistance may seem like a distant threat, but people are already dying needlessly in their thousands across the world, including in this country, because they have a drug-resistant infection and we do not have effective drugs to treat them. This problem is only getting worse – we urgently need to find solutions.

More research is critical, which is why the UK government is calling on some of the country’s brightest minds to come up with new ways to prevent, control and combat these infections in the future. I know there are exciting projects needing support in this area – this competition presents a fantastic opportunity for the UK to lead this work.