New £1.5 million novel technologies initiative launches to accelerate new approaches to infection transmission

Companies and research groups with novel solutions to tackle infection transmission will have the opportunity to shape the direction of the UK’s infection response and bid for funding through a new initiative to stimulate innovation.

The Infection Innovation Consortium: iiCON, a consortium led by Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, has been appointed by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to deliver the new project.

The consortium will bring together and support the formation of diverse cross-disciplinary networks to propel the development of new concepts and solutions that leverage disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), digital and automation, advanced humanised infection models, and novel diagnostics to combat the spread of infection.

Professor Janet Hemingway, founding director of iiCON, said:

“Combatting the transmission of infection is one of the key health challenges of our time, and one that is growing in urgency. As such, it’s critical that we leverage novel, disruptive technology to drive forward our collective efforts to tackle the spread of infection. We are particularly keen to engage individuals and companies who have not previously worked in this area.

“We hope this exciting programme will spark the formation of new cross-disciplinary networks and support participants to shape the future direction of our response to infection transmission – bringing forward novel concepts and approaches that may hold the key to unlocking this critical issue.”


Companies and groups will have the opportunity to apply to take part in two ‘sandpit’ events held in Liverpool on March 14th and London on May 9th. These intensive innovation workshop sessions will help to spark ideas, foster innovation, and create new collaborative approaches to tackle this urgent challenge and drive forward novel projects.

Complementing the work of UKRI’s flagship AMR and epidemic preparedness programmes, the sandpits will look to pump-prime radical new approaches to tackling infections by engaging new communities and capabilities with the challenge.

The programme is supported with £1.5 million funding from UKRI to bring new research communities together and support feasibility studies. The sandpits will shape the call for funding pots of £50,000 to £150,000 to test disruptive approaches to tackling infections. Network support grants of up to £50,000 will also be available.

The development of new antibiotics and companion diagnostics are out of scope for the new fund, as these are covered by the recently announced PACE initiative.

To find out more and register interest in taking part in the sandpit events being held in March and May, please visit:

The Pandemic Institute showcases achievements to philanthropic donor

The Pandemic Institute has welcomed a visit from Dr Charles Huang, whose company Innova Medical Group provided the initial £10m philanthropic donation that founded the Institute. Launched in 2021, The Pandemic Institute is a unique collaboration of academic, health and civic partners, whose mission is to tackle emerging infections and future pandemic threats.

Liverpool was chosen to be the home of The Pandemic Institute thanks to its unique ecosystem, hosting medical, veterinary, public health, tropical medicine and behavioural science schools and institutes. Liverpool has an unrivalled breadth of world-leading clinical and academic expertise in the areas required to deliver an end-to-end response to the challenge of emerging infections and future pandemics, all co-located in one city. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Liverpool pioneered innovative approaches including a whole city community testing pilot which cut transmission rates by a fifth, as well as hosting large-scale pilot events on behalf of the Government that provided evidence of how to safely reopen important sectors of the economy – developing Liverpool’s reputation as a leader in pandemic management and resilience.

The Pandemic Institute also builds on Liverpool’s work leading the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Unit in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections (since 2014) which was at the forefront of the UK research response to Ebola, Zika and Covid-19. During the visit, the team at TPI were proud to showcase some of the things the institute has achieved since it’s formation, including identifying and funding high priority research during the MPox outbreak, establishing a £5M research partnership with Seqirus – a global leader in influenza, and more recently providing funding to employ key research or technical staff who will carry out a range of pandemic preparedness projects, and be ready to pivot to respond rapidly against any new threat that arises. The Pandemic Institute also manages the UK Pandemic Sciences Network, which brings together the UK’s leading pandemic science research teams to support the delivery of the G7’s 100 Days Mission.

As part of his visit, Dr Huang joined TPI director Professor Tom Solomon who was hosting a session on ‘preparing for future pandemics’ at The Royal Society Creating Connections event. He also joined members of the TPI team for a tour of some of the fantastic facilities Liverpool has to offer including the Digital Innovation Facility, the infectious diseases labs at University of Liverpool, the NIHR Clinical Research Facility at the Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and the Accelerator Research Clinic at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

“I’m delighted to visit my PhD mentor Professor Steven Young’s Alma mater – the University of Liverpool – and The Pandemic Institute, and hear about the Institute’s work and progress. Now with Innova Nanojet Technologies’ award winning and breakthrough product that can effectively and efficiently remove airborne viruses, pollens and pollutants, we are now in a position to continue to support the Institute, the University of Liverpool and the city of Liverpool to remain at the forefront of combatting pandemics”.

Dr. Huang is the founder and chairman of Pasaca Capital Inc., who own Innova Medical Group, he founded the Charles Huang Foundation in 2020, looking for meaningful ways to give back to society and help others.

Professor Tom Solomon CBE, from the University of Liverpool’s Infection, Veterinary and Ecological Sciences Institute, and Director of The Pandemic Institute said:

“It’s been wonderful to host Charles in Liverpool, and show him just some of the work we have been doing supported by his initial investment.”

Learn more about the work of The Pandemic Institute and the founding partners here.