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Apply for the Catalyst Awards Fourth 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 2023, Zinc will support its fourth 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 enterprise 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 January 2023. Building on the success of our Prototyping Problems workshops in 2021 and 2022, these workshops with brand-new content will offer inspiration from current and previous Awards winners 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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Projects and Scope

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. You can view the second cohort of 22 Awardees and the third (current) cohort of 21 Awardees and their projects on the Healthy Longevity Challenge website.

Learn more about scope and eligibility at our resource hub.

Eligibility

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.

Learn more about eligibility at our resource hub.

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.

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 (2023 document available shortly).

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 Funding Round 3 workshop and register for our new Catalysing Innovation Workshops here (December 2022 and January 2023).

Expression of Interest Submission

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January and February 2023

Submit an expression of interest via Zinc’s Workable platform. The submission period is open from 31st January 2023. Our dedicated resources web page will be available soon 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

A decision will then be made on the cohort of Catalyst Awards holders for the 2023/24 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

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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. The most updated version will be available soon.

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Expression of Interest Summary Template

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

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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. The updated version will be available soon.

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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. The template letter of support can be found here.

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FAQs

You can view frequently asked questions here.

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Catalyst Awards Overview

An overview will be available soon.

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Zinc Programme of Support Information Sheet

This document provides more detail about the benefits of the proven support programme offered by Zinc to Awardees. An updated version will be available soon.

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Head of Department Information Sheet

An additional resource for your Head of Department, exploring the support required for the Catalyst Awards. An updated version will be available soon.

Expression of Interest Open February 2023

The Expression of Interest submission period opens 31st January 2023. 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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