Apply for the Catalyst Awards Third Cohort

Since the first call for the Healthy Ageing Catalyst Awards in 2020, Zinc and UKRI have partnered to fund entrepreneurial academics who want to translate their research into impactful and scalable products, services and interventions. The Awards are part of the UKRI Healthy Ageing Challenge and the Healthy Longevity Global Grand Challenge, founded by the U.S. National Academy of Medicine. This is a worldwide movement to improve physical, mental, and social well-being for people as they age.

In 2022, Zinc will support its third cohort of researchers to create innovations that:

  • Allow everyone to remain active, productive, independent and socially connected across generations for as long as possible;
  • Narrow the gap between the experiences of the richest and the poorest.
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Benefit from up to £62,500 in funding and a dedicated programme of support

UKRI award successful applicants up to £62,500 (fEC) (80% from UKRI, 20% contribution from your host institution) and Zinc offer a comprehensive and proven programme of support, which will help you scale the impact of your research and explore different pathways to impact.

Over 9-months, you will gain access to:

  • Workshops, talks and coaching sessions with our extensive ecosystem;
  • Office hours with Zinc Fellows;
  • 1:1 guidance from Zinc’s R&D and Accelerate teams to support the development of your innovation;
  • User groups, to test your ideas and prototypes;
  • Multiple opportunities to meet your peers in the Healthy Ageing industry and showcase your project as it develops throughout the programme.

We offer support before you apply via a series of workshops, taking place in December 2021 and January 2022. Building on the success of our Prototyping Problems workshops in January 2021, these new workshops will offer inspiration alongside practical advice about submitting your expression of interest.

We’re Looking for Transformative Ideas from Researchers with an Entrepreneurial Spirit

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This grant is not for basic research projects. We are looking for high-risk, high-reward research-based ideas that will transform our lives as we age. We also seek projects with the potential to be sustained through a commercial spin-out, social enterprise, IP licensing or other sustainability models.

We want you to design solutions solving significant problems and take a human-centered approach through a deep understanding of the people who are affected and the stakeholders involved. The funding can be used for a range of activities, including but not limited to: testing the desirability, feasibility and viability of your ideas, market research, piloting, prototyping and user-testing.

You can view the current cohort of 22 Awardees and their projects on the Healthy Longevity Challenge website.


Applications are open to researchers from a wide range of disciplines, voices, viewpoints and experiences. Successful applicants should be able to ensure that an average of at least 30% of the core team’s overall time (e.g. an early career researcher and a senior academic) is dedicated to the Catalyst Awards, and will have the following attributes.

  • You are a UK based researcher driven to tackle significant problems in Healthy Ageing.
  • You have an entrepreneurial motivation and a desire to create impact beyond academic research.

We particularly welcome applicants from the arts, humanities and social sciences. We also encourage early career researchers to apply; this is an exciting opportunity to gain experience as a Principal Investigator, as you do not need to be a permanent member of staff to be a PI on this Award.

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Eligibility Requirements

Please check that you are eligible for research and innovation funding in the first instance by visiting the UKRI Website.

In order to be eligible you must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Your proposal can be applied to address an opportunity for innovation within healthy ageing.
  • You have a PhD or equivalent professional experience.
  • You will be hosted by a UK university or an eligible research organisation for the duration of the award (up to 12 months starting from September 2022). The institution will receive the funding on behalf of the applicant and will contribute 20% fEC.

You must submit a letter of support from your host organisation as part of Stage One of your application, in February 2022. This document, designed to be given to your head of department, outlines the support required, and a template letter of support is found here. We strongly recommend you talk with your department head as soon as possible. We also recommend you reach out to your tech transfer, enterprise or innovation office (and so forth) at this time, as they may provide additional support with the application process. 

We are committed to ensuring that the Catalyst Awards are accessible and inclusive. All eligible candidates are encouraged to apply, whatever your background or identity. In line with UKRI’s commitment to support the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), reviewers and panel members will be advised not to use journal-based metrics to make funding decisions.

The Catalyst Discovery Series Application Process

Each stage of our collaborative application process will help you develop your ideas and build a compelling application. More information about this process is be available in our Expression of Interest Guidance Document.

Inspiration and Preparation

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December and January

It is strongly recommended that you attend one of our workshops in January. These sessions will inspire and help applicants to prepare for submitting a strong expression of interest. You can view a recording of the latest workshop.

Expression of Interest Submission

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1-22 February 2022

Submit an expression of interest via Zinc’s Workable platform. The submission period is open from 1st February, 2022 at 12:00 (midday) to 22nd February, 2022 at 16:00 (all times GMT). Please explore our dedicated resources web page for templates and guidance.

Office Hours

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May (Shortlisted Applicants Only)

A smaller number of shortlisted applicants are invited to attend office hours with the Zinc team and an idea development and storytelling workshop.

'Dragons Den' Pitch

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June (Shortlisted Applicants Only)

The selected applicants submit a case for support and pitch their final idea to a panel of Zinc and UKRI representatives and external expert reviewers.

Final decisions

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Late June 2022

A decision will then be made on the cohort of Catalyst Awards holders for the 2021/22 academic year, who will undertake Zinc’s programme of support and receive up to £62,500 in funding.

Formal Submission

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Once you have been selected for the Awards (and so offered UKRI funding and a place on the Zinc programme of support) you will be required to submit details of your application through the UKRI Je-S system.

Useful Documents

Expression of Interest Guidance

This guidance booklet contains everything you need to know to submit an Expression of Interest for the Catalyst Awards. It is necessary to read this document carefully and in full to create a strong application.

Expression of Interest Summary Template

Use this template to create your Expression of Interest document, which needs to be uploaded with your application.

Early Career Researcher Guidance Document

If you’re an early career researcher with questions about the application process, we have created this additional guidance document.

Letter of Support Template

We strongly recommend reaching out to your Head of Department about support for the Catalyst Awards as soon as possible. We also recommend you reach out to your tech transfer, enterprise or innovation office (and so forth) at this time, as they may provide additional support with the application process.


Frequently asked questions are answered in this document.

Catalyst Awards Overview

This document offers a short overview of the Awards, including key dates.

Zinc Programme of Support Information Sheet

This document provides more detail about the benefits of the proven support programme offered by Zinc to Awardees.

Head of Department Information Sheet

An additional resource for your Head of Department, exploring the support required for the Catalyst Awards.

Expression of Interest Open 1-22 February

The Expression of Interest submission period opens at 12pm (midday) on Tuesday 1st February, 2022 and closes at 4pm on Tuesday 22nd February, 2022. Learn more about our application process and access all the resources you need to submit a strong expression of interest at our dedicated web page.

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