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Innovate UK

Growing UK businesses through third sector partnerships

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Funding, ISCF, Support

This year Innovate UK has teamed up with Coeliac UK to co-fund a competition addressing challenges facing patients with coeliac disease. We are delighted to be collaborating with a charity like Coeliac UK to fund innovative ideas that will not only grow UK businesses but also provide real solutions to challenges faced by people with coeliac disease.

Book titled Coeliac Disease on a desk with a stethoscope.

Coeliac disease

Coeliac disease is a lifelong autoimmune disease caused by a reaction to gluten which affects 1 in 100 people worldwide, that’s 650,000 people in the UK and 72 million worldwide. It can be difficult to get a diagnosis due to the diversity of symptoms and can take a long time (up to 13 years in some cases), so the majority of people with the condition are unaware or struggling to find out what’s wrong.

For people living with coeliac disease there are unanswered questions but also products and services that could dramatically improve quality of life for patients and their families.  That’s what this competition is all about - helping SMEs collaborate with researchers with the clear aim of translating academic research into products and services that can be used by healthcare providers and the food industry to the benefit of patients with coeliac disease.

Products containing wheat. Pasta, rice cakes, bread.

Real problems faced by patients

What is unique about this partnership; is the combination of addressing themes core to our Ageing Society, Health and Nutrition strategy, and addressing the real problems faced by patients through working with the charity at the centre of this community.

This year highlights the 50 year anniversary of charity Coeliac UK; five decades of providing support for people on their diagnosis journey, campaigning for better care and treatment, and funding research into the condition.

Since 2005 they have contributed around £2 million towards research into the fundamentals of the condition, finding out about immune mechanism involved, the genetics, and complications like neurological problems, as well as psychological and social factors associated with coeliac disease.

With the global diagnosis for coeliac disease increasing year on year, this is a chance for UK business and researchers to get ahead and develop competitive advantages in innovation which will be of benefit to a growing patient group.

Saying no to bread. Person holding up their hand in a negative gesture.

Addressing the challenges faced by patients with coeliac disease

Our competition is looking to fund businesses and researchers who can address challenges facing patients with coeliac disease through three priority themes:

  1. Coeliac disease diagnosis: Current diagnosis includes a blood test followed by an endoscopic intestinal biopsy, and gluten must be in the diet for the tests to be accurate. For patients this means eating gluten throughout the diagnosis process causing symptoms from diarrhoea, constipation, vomiting, stomach cramps, mouth ulcers, fatigue and anaemia. Less invasive diagnostic tools could provide a more accurate diagnosis, especially if gluten ingestion at time of testing is not required, and lead to early effective treatment, better quality of life and reduced risk of complications, leading to cost savings to the NHS.
  2. Enhanced quality and affordable gluten free products: Coeliac disease affects 1% in the UK and globally, and gluten free food is purchased or eaten by 22% of UK consumers. The global gluten free retail market has expanded rapidly from $1.7bn in 2011 and is expected to reach $4.7bn by 2020 with a growing demand for gluten free foods in expanding markets such as China and India. Gluten free products can be lower quality, with a poorer nutritional profile than their standard equivalents. Creating a more nutritious and affordable gluten free food supply will help improve long-term health of this population.
  3. Digitally supported self-care: Coeliac disease is a serious autoimmune condition which requires lifelong management. The condition lends itself to supported self-care as the main means of management which could provide a highly cost effective option for patients. The development of innovative digital tools and point of care testing could offer an optimum regime for self-care.

The competition is open now and closes 3 September 2018, 09:00 (GMT+1)

Funding available: £750k

Projects can range from £50k to £250k:

  • Early stage feasibility; 6 - 12 months, up to £100k
  • Industrial research; 12 - 36 months, £50k - £250k
  • Experimental development; 6 - 18 months, £50k - £250k

gluten free chocolate brownies and a pot of raspberries.


Visit to find out more.

Follow Coeliac UK on twitter @Coeliac_UK

Follow Kathryn Miller, Innovation Lead – Food and Nutrition on twitter

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