CRACK IT Challenges

A challenge-led competition that funds collaborations between industry, academics and SMEs to solve business and scientific 'Challenges' which if solved will deliver 3Rs and commercial benefits, either by improving business processes or developing a commercialisable product.

Who is involved?

The Sponsors - define the Challenges, working with the NC3Rs to set out the business case and 3Rs benefits. Sponsors do not have to be UK-based. Typically they come from the pharmaceutical, chemical or consumer products sectors - although Sponsors from the academic sector including funders and institutions are also welcome. Sponsors are required to provide in-kind contributions and/or funding to help solve the Challenge. In-kind contributions can include access to data, compounds or expertise. In return, Sponsors receive early access to new technologies emerging from the Challenge.

The innovators - the competition is open to SMEs and academics. In most cases multi-disciplinary teams are required.

The funders - the main funder of the competition is the NC3Rs, with support from the Technology Strategy Board Small Business Research Initiative. Depending on the Challenge contracts of up to £1 million over three years are available.

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The process

Challenge Development Process

  • Potential CRACK IT Challenges are developed with Sponsors through either an open call or office-led initiatives
  • The CRACK IT Advisory Panel assess potential Challenges, taking into consideration external reviewer comments, and recommend to the NC3Rs which Challenges to run as competitions

Competition process

  • The Challenges are published by the NC3Rs and pitched to the wider community for solving
  • Building teams to solve the Challenges - we provide networking opportunities through the Launch event for potential applicants to identify new partners and to meet the Sponsors
  • Application and review process - there is a two phase application process*. Phase 1 applications are assessed by a Review Panel which selects up to three projects to enter into six month proof-of-concept studies. Candidates are then invited for a 'Dragons' Den' style interview with the Challenge Panel to select one winner for Phase 2

Post Award Process

  • Agreements and awards - successful applicants are awarded a contract to deliver the Challenge
  • Project management - contracts are milestone-driven with funding dependent on achievement of milestones

*For Challenges which require little or no research and development costs and primarily focus on accelerating the validation of new technologies, prototypes and methods that are close to market, there is a single phase process.



Apply to CRACK IT Two Phase Challenges
Information on the application process and eligibility
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