Challenge types and process
Who is involved?
UK, EU, EEA and EFTA based SMEs and academics secure funding and a research contract through a competitive process to develop tools, technologies or approaches to solve the Challenges. In most cases, multi-disciplinary teams are required.
Sponsors can come from industry, academia or the charitable sector. Sponsors define the Challenges, with a view to using the product developed, working with the NC3Rs to set out the business case and 3Rs benefits. Sponsors are required to provide in-kind contributions and/or funding to help solve the Challenges.
Partners are organisations from across the bioscience landscape that support the development and dissemination of technologies as they emerge from Challenge projects.
The NC3Rs funds the majority of the competitions, with support for specific Challenges from the public and charitable sectors. Sponsors are encouraged to provide co-funding alongside their in-kind support.
Types of Challenge
There are three types of Challenges in the CRACK IT competition: Single Phase, Two Phase and mega-Challenges.
Single Phase Challenges
There is a Single Phase competition for Challenges which either primarily focus on the validation of new technologies, prototypes and methods that are closer to market or require less research and lower development costs compared to Two-Phase Challenges. Applicants should refer to the Single Phase Guide for Participants for more information.
Applications shortlisted by the Review Panel will be invited to present their proposals to the Challenge Panel where up to one contract for up to one year will be awarded with up to £100k to deliver the Challenge brief.
Two Phase Challenges
Challenges that require a significant amount of funding and may include research, development and validation of new technologies, prototypes and methods are run as Two Phase competitions. There is a two-phase application process:
- Phase 1: The Review Panel recommends funding up to three projects to deliver proof-of-concept studies. Contracts are up to six months with funding of up to £100k.
- Phase 2: Following presentation of proof-of-concept, the Challenge Panel recommends up to one project to support in Phase 2 to address the full Challenge requirements. Entry into Phase 2 is dependent on successful completion of Phase 1. Contracts are up to three years with funding of up to £1 million.
Three Phase (Mega) Challenges
Mega-Challenges are large scale R&D projects requiring more funding and award duration for delivery. There is a three-phase application process:
- Phase 1: The Review Panel recommends funding up to three projects to deliver proof-of-concept studies. Contracts are up to nine months with funding of up to £100k.
- Phase 2: Following presentation of proof-of-concept, the Challenge Panel recommends up to one project to support in Phase 2 to address the Phase 2 requirements. Entry into Phase 2 is dependent on successful completion of Phase 1. Contracts are up to three years with funding of up to £1.6 million.
- Phase 3: Following successful delivery of Phase 2 of the Challenge and a Phase 2 report, the Challenge Panel can recommend continued support into Phase 3 to address the full Challenge requirements. Entry into Phase 3 is dependent on successful completion of Phase 2. Contracts are up to two years with funding of up to £1 million.
All CRACK IT Challenges follow the same process described below. Please visit out Apply for a Challenge or Sponsor a Challenge pages for more information.
Overview of the CRACK IT Challenge competition process
CRACK IT Challenges are developed with Sponsors through either an open call or NC3Rs office-led initiatives. The CRACK IT Advisory Panel assess the Challenge proposals and recommends to the NC3Rs which Challenges to run as competitions.
The Challenges are published by the NC3Rs and pitched to the scientific community for solving. The Challenge brief, outlining the key objectives and deliverables, are published on each Challenge page. A launch event is held for potential applicants to identify new partners and to meet the Sponsors.
Innovators that have secured the funding, work with the Challenge Sponsors and the NC3Rs to deliver the Challenge.
Project management and Challenge delivery
Challenges are milestone-driven with regular Project Management Team meetings to ensure milestones are on schedule and to manage risks.
Products and/or services developed through the Challenges are made widely available to the scientific community. To view the products that have emerged from CRACK IT Challenges, please go to the products page.
To stay up to date with the announcement of new Challenges and CRACK IT updates, sign up to the NC3Rs newsletter.
Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org