CRACK IT Challenges

Challenge Types

Two Phase Challenges

Challenges that require a significant amount of funding and may include research, development and validation of new technologies, prototypes and methods.

There is a two-phase application process.

Phase 1: The Review Panel recommends funding up to three (3) projects to deliver proof-of-concept studies. Contracts are up to six (6) months with funding of up to £100k.

Phase 2: Following presentation of proof-of-concept, the Challenge Panel recommends up to one (1) 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 (3) years with funding of up to £1 million.

Single Phase Challenges

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, there is a Single Phase competition. Applicants should refer to the Guide for Participants which contains more information on the competition.

Applications shortlisted by the Review Panel will be invited to present their proposals to the Challenge Panel where up to one (1) contract for up to one (1) year will be awarded with up to £100k to deliver the Challenge brief.

Process

Challenge development

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.

Competition

The Challenges are published by the NC3Rs and pitched to the scientific community for solving.

A launch event is held for potential applicants to identify new partners and to meet the Sponsors.

Awards

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.  

Challenge impacts

Products and/or services developed through the Challenges are made widely available to the scientific community.

Apply to Solve a Challenge

Two Phase competition overview

There is a two-phase application process. Each phase has specific deliverables defined in the Challenge brief. Applicants should refer to the Guide for Participants which contains detailed information on the competition.

Phase 1 applications are assessed by a Review Panel which recommends funding up to three projects for six month proof-of-concept studies funded by the NC3Rs. At the end of Phase 1, candidates are invited to submit a Phase 2 application and attend an interview with the Challenge Panel. Up to one project is awarded a contract of up to three years to deliver the full Challenge.

The 2019 Challenges competition will open on 12 September 2019.

View the 2019 CRACK IT Challenges. 

2019 Two Phase Challenges competition dates

Activity

Date

2019 Challenges announced

July 2019

2019 Challenges launch event

11 September 2019

Competition opens

12 September 2019

Phase 1 application deadline

6 November 2019, 12pm (noon)

Phase 1 applicants notified of outcome

Mid-December 2019

Phase 2 application deadline

17 June 2020

Applicant eligibility

CRACK IT Two Phase Challenges are run using the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) process which is supported by Innovate UK. The competition is open to any European Union (EU) body, public or private. Applications can be from single organisations or investigators or from consortia. The lead applicant must be EU based.

Applicants may already hold a grant or contract from the NC3Rs or other funding bodies for research related to the topic for which new funds are being sought, in such instances, details of all relevant research funding, including that from industry, should be included in the application.

Agreement and awards

Phase 1 awards made following the Review Panel are subject to the terms outlined in the Phase 1 contractor agreement. Typically, Sponsors do not provide in-kind contributions for Phase 1. Where in-kind contributions are required it may be necessary for the applicant and Sponsor to sign an agreement before starting the proof-of-concept study. Phase 1 awardees are expected to start work on receipt of the agreement as the deadline for Phase 2 applications will not be extended.

Phase 2 awards made following the Challenge Panel are subject to the terms outlined in the Phase 2 contractor agreement with the NC3Rs. The NC3Rs will have an agreement with the Sponsors and an agreement is also recommended between the successful applicant and the Sponsors.

Applicants are strongly advised to read the agreements prior to applying. 

Additional information

CRACK IT Challenges Guide for Participants

CRACK IT Challenges Phase 1 Application Form

CRACK IT Challenges Phase 1 Contractor Agreement

CRACK IT Challenges Phase 2 Contractor Agreement

CRACK IT Challenges FAQs

Single Phase competition overview

Applications for Single Phase Challenges describe plans for addressing the key deliverables detailed in the Challenge brief. This includes an assessment by a Review Panel. The most promising proposals will be invited to an interview by the Challenge Panel who will recommend up to one Single Phase award per Challenge.

The 2019 Challenges competition will open on 12 September 2019.

View the 2019 CRACK IT Challenges.

2019 Single Phase Challenges competition dates:

Activity Date

2019 Challenges announced

July 2019

2019 Challenges launch event

11 September 2019

Competition opens

12 September 2019

Single Phase application deadline

13 November 2019, 12pm (noon)

Shortlisted applicants notified of outcome

December 2019

Single Phase Challenge Panel

January 2020

Applicant eligibility

The competition is open to any European Union (EU) body, public or private. Applications can be from single organisations or investigators or from consortia. The lead applicant must be EU based.

Applicants may already hold a grant or contract from the NC3Rs or other funding bodies for research related to the topic for which new funds are being sought. In such instances, details of all relevant research funding, including that from industry, should be included in the application.

Agreements and awards

Single Phase awards made following the Challenge Panel are subject terms outlined in the Single Phase contractor agreement. The NC3Rs will have an agreement with the Sponsors and an agreement is also recommended between the successful applicant and the Sponsor.

Applicants are strongly advised to read the agreements prior to applying. 

Additional information

CRACK IT Challenges Guide for Participants

CRACK IT Challenges Single Phase Application Form

CRACK IT Single Phase Contractor Agreement

CRACK IT Challenges FAQs

Award Holder Information

Overview

We expect all NC3Rs-funded researchers to act as 3Rs ambassadors within their institutions and field, promoting the 3Rs outcomes of the research we support in publications, posters and presentations. In addition, CRACK IT Contractors are required to:

Contractor Agreement extensions | Publications and open access publishingReporting requirements and evaluation

Contractor Agreement extensions

The NC3Rs does not routinely extend CRACK IT agreements, except for maternity leave, gaps in employment or staggered start dates. Extensions for these reasons may be requested through a direct request to a member of the CRACK IT team.

In exceptional circumstances, we may consider extending the agreement. The delays or shortfall must seriously threaten the delivery of a significant proportion of the science outlined in the original application. Contractors must be able to demonstrate that the delays could not have been anticipated, were outside their control and that every effort has already been made to mitigate them.

Extensions cannot be used for:

  • The sole purpose of using remaining funds.
  • Starting new scientific work that was not outlined in the original application.
  • Managing RO or applicant changes to research plans and staffing.
  • Preparing new grant applications.
  • The purpose of writing up results.

With the exception of multiple periods of maternity/paternity/sick leave, an agreement will be allowed no more than one extension. If an extension has already been approved, further requests will not normally be considered. 

Requests for additional funds will only be considered in exceptional circumstances. 

Publications and open access publishing

We have adopted the RCUK’s policy on open access of publications. We expect CRACK IT Contractors to disseminate their results by publishing in appropriate scientific journals, detailing the 3Rs impact of the work. The NC3Rs contribution to Article Processing Charges (APCs) will be paid for via the MRC contribution to the RCUK block grant.

Peer reviewed papers reporting research that is wholly or partially funded by the NC3Rs should:

  • Make reference to the 3Rs implications of the research, including in the abstract and the main body of the text.
  • Be published in journals which are compliant with the RCUK policy on open access.
  • Include details of the funding that supported the research - NC3Rs support for an individual or research project should be acknowledged in all publications where such support has been significant (i.e. accounts for at least 20% of funding).
  • Provide a statement on how the underlying research materials such as data, samples or models can be accessed.
  • Be reported in accordance with the ARRIVE guidelines, taking into account the specific editorial policies of the journal concerned.

Guidance text for acknowledging the NC3Rs:

'We thank the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) for funding this work ([insert award number] to [insert author(s) initials]). Article processing charges were paid from the Medical Research Council contribution to the RCUK block grant to [insert name of institution].'

Please keep us informed of any publications or other material arising from an NC3Rs award by emailing a PDF copy to crackitenquiries@nc3rs.org.uk.  Ideally, we would like to be informed pre-publication to enable us to prepare publicity material as appropriate. Any publication arising from NC3Rs-funded research should be deposited into Europe PubMed Central at the point of publication or within six months at the latest and included in your Researchfish grant record.

NC3Rs blog: NC3Rs-funded research now available for all

Reporting requirements and evaluation

CRACK IT Contractors should report on the outputs and outcomes of the research we have funded on a regular basis. In line with the Research Councils, we use Researchfish to collect this information. Log-in details are provided by Researchfish Ltd. Outputs and outcomes data should be submitted during and after the lifetime of the award. Data can be inputted at any time. In addition, there is an annual compulsory data submission period. Information in Researchfish should also be updated shortly before the grant is due to end. Failure to update within three months of the grant end date will result in an automatic financial penalty.

We reserve the right to sanction a grant at any stage if unsatisfactory progress has been made.

Researchfish reporting requirements

Who      

 

 

   

  • Compliance with Researchfish reporting is a requirement for every CRACK IT Contractor.
  • The lead contractor/ BGS awardee is ultimately responsible for ensuring his/her Researchfish record is up-to- date.

When

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contractors can, and should, submit information to Researchfish all year round and after the contract has ended:

  • Phase 1: for at least one (1) year
  • Phase 2: for at least five (5) years
  • Single Phase: for at least three (3) years
  • BGS*:  for at least five (5) years

In line with the Research Councils, the NC3Rs also has an annual collection period.

 

There is also a requirement to update Researchfish when your contract is coming to an end.

What

 

 

  • Details of all outputs, outcomes and impacts, when available, arising from the contract.
  • In particular, complete the sections on Publications and Replacement, Reduction and Refinement.

Why

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Researchfish is one method by which we monitor progress on contracts. Contractors who do not report into Researchfish when requested to do so, or use the system inappropriately, may become ineligible to apply for additional awards from the NC3Rs (and potentially the Research Councils).
  • Researchfish is not a publicly accessible data repository. However, data held in Researchfish may be used by the NC3Rs to populate our website and for production of publications such as our Annual Report.

Queries about our reporting requirements should be sent to crackitenquiries@nc3rs.org.uk

Back to the top

CRACK IT Advisory Panel

Role of the Panel

The CRACK IT Advisory Panel (CAP) advises the NC3Rs on the CRACK IT Programme. The remit of the Panel includes:

  • Assessment of the new Challenges proposed each year.
  • Providing advice and feedback to Challenge contractors where needed.
  • Assessment of Business Growth Scheme applications.
  • Review of Solutions proposals.

CRACK IT Advisory Panel members are appointed for three and a half years, with the possibility of a further one or two years' extension.

We receive new Challenge submissions from a wide range of disciplines. Additional members may be co-opted to the Panel, for one year, if additional expertise is required.

New Challenge submission assessment procedure

Challenge Assessment generally consists of a two-stage process:

  • The Advisory Panel assesses new Challenge submissions using the assessment criteria to evaluate the scientific quality, 3Rs impact and commercial potential of the submissions.
  • New Challenge submissions are then assessed by independent scientific experts who consider the viability, scientific quality and likely 3Rs impact of the proposal.

Declaration of interests

Advisory Panel members are required to declare any private, professional or commercial interests that might, or that might be perceived to, conflict with the NC3Rs interests as detailed in the declaration of interests policy.

CRACK IT Advisory Panel membership

Member

Institution

Term ends

Professor Jon Timmis (Chair) 

University of Sunderland

2021

Dr Uday Phadke 

Cartezia

2019

Dr Malcolm Skingle 

GlaxoSmithKline

2019

Mr Stephen Browning 

Innovate UK

2019

Dr Martino Picardo 

Independent

2019

Mrs Margaret Parton

UK Trade and Investment

2019

Dr Kathryn Chapman

University of Cambridge, Milner Therapeutics Consortium

2019

Mrs Sue Dunkerton

Knowledge Transfer Network

2021

Business Growth Scheme

Overview

The NC3Rs has introduced a Business Growth Scheme (BGS) where CRACK IT Challenge contractors can apply for additional support, of up to £50k (inclusive of VAT/EU reverse charges) for 12 months, to maximise their business strategy for near-market ready products and services.

The BGS has been designed to support the business and commercial opportunities that arise from technology developed during the Challenge. These funds will not be awarded to support further R&D work that was not completed in the Challenge period.

All awards made under the BGS constitute de minimis aid.

More information can be found in the Guide for Participants.

Eligibility

Open to any CRACK IT Single Phase or Phase 2 contractor (includes sub-contractors).

  • Applicants must be European Union (EU)-based and from an established commercial entity.
  • Only one application to the BGS, per Challenge, will be accepted.
  • Applications will only be accepted following the end of Challenge presentation to the CRACK IT Advisory Panel (CAP).
  • Applications are reviewed by the CAP within six (6) weeks of the NC3Rs receiving the application.
  • BGS awards constitute de minimis aid. Any one organisation cannot be provided with more than the de minimis funding threshold of €200k over a three year fiscal period.

Agreements and awards

Prior to award, the successful applicant’s organisation signs an agreement with the NC3Rs. Up to two (2) awards will be made each financial year. 

Additional information

CRACK IT Challenges Guide for Participants

2019 CRACK IT Challenges Launch Event

Wednesday 11 September 2019 11.00am

This year’s NC3Rs CRACK IT Challenges will be launched at an event held on 11 September in central London.

The 2019 CRACK IT Challenges competition consists of three Challenges identified jointly by the NC3Rs and Sponsors. This year the competition is funded by the NC3Rs with in-kind contribution from the Sponsors. There are seven Sponsors (AstraZeneca, Bayer, GSK, Novartis, The Royal Veterinary College, Takeda and The University of Sheffield).

The Challenges are detailed in the Challenge briefs which include a description of the problem to be solved, the 3Rs benefits, the names of the Sponsors and the nature of their proposed in-kind contributions, the notional financial cost of the project (the sum to be awarded by the NC3Rs), the potential timescale of the work and proposals for the organisation of the project. The 2019 Challenges are listed below:

  • Challenge 32 Transgene Track: Development of a sensitive, absolute quantification method for tracking AAV gene therapies and CAR-T cells in vivo. (Two Phase Challenge Sponsored by GSK and Novartis).
  • Challenge 33 CleanCut: Animal free tumourigenicity assessment of genome edited human haematopoietic stem cells. (Two Phase Challenge Sponsored by Novartis Bayer and Takeda).
  • Challenge 34 Sharp and to the Point: Developing needles for high throughput and critical compound administration in mice. (Single Phase Challenge Sponsored by AstraZeneca, GSK, The University of Sheffield and The Royal Veterinary College).

Programme | Registration

Programme

A draft agenda can be found here.

The meeting will provide an overview of the CRACK IT Challenges programme and how to apply, details of the 2019 CRACK IT Challenges and the opportunity to meet the Sponsors.

There will also be Challenge surgeries where Sponsors will introduce their specific Challenge and answer questions from registrants and potential applicants. 

This year, we are introducing Lightning Talks. These talks focus on one key point. This can be an idea, successful project, a cautionary story, collaboration invitation, quick tip or demonstration. This is an opportunity for ideas to get the attention from the Sponsors and other attendees to the event.

Lightning talk proposals must include: title, author name and short biography, five keywords, and a short description of the planned talk.

Deadline – 12:00pm BST, 28 August 2019

There will also be a networking session where delegates will have the opportunity to meet potential new collaborators and partners to solve the Challenges.

The launch event is free to attend but registration is essential.

Registration

The Challenges Launch event is open to potential applicants only. To register, please download and complete the registration form and return to crackitenquiries@nc3rs.org.uk.  Please use your institutional email address when registering. The deadline for registration is 4 September 2019. 

Further details on the event and location will be sent to you following registration form completion.