Pathfinder Awards

The focus of the scheme is on orphan and neglected diseases, where no current therapy exists or where the proposed product will be superior to the existing options. In the context of this scheme, see definitions in “Other comments” below.

Pathfinder Awards

Key points/focus:

Pathfinder Awards aim to facilitate requests that would normally be considered too early for funding under the Wellcome Trust’s other translational funding schemes. They might be used to support the clinical development of any products, including drugs, biologics, medical devices, enabling technologies and vaccines, specifically aimed at orphan and neglected diseases.

Other comments:

In the context of this scheme, neglected diseases are those listed in the Global Funding of Innovation for Neglected Diseases (G-FINDER) report and website, orphan indications are those listed by the NIH Office of Rare Diseases Research. Useful advice for European orphan designation can be accessed on the European Medicines Agency website. The Wellcome Trust contribution to the partnership will be capped at £100 000, and evidence of a matching funding contribution from the company partner will be expected. The salary for a tenured academic university post cannot be re-charged (in full or in part) to a Pathfinder Award. See the information for applicants, allowed costs and disallowed costs for further information on what is and is not included.

Applications Procedure:

To maintain momentum, Pathfinder Awards will be processed in the shortest time possible. There is no preliminary application phase. Applicants should contact the office to confirm that the proposed partnership is eligible before submitting a full application form. Please note that in addition to established companies, SMEs and/or not-for-profit entities working with an academic partner can be considered on an invitation only basis. Applicants should submit a full application by email (see the Forms and guidance tab) before the next deadline. Full applications will be considered by a dedicated internal Pathfinders Assessment Group and independent external experts. There will be four rolling deadlines in a 12-month period, subject to available budget in the current financial year. Please note that by submitting an application the parties agree to the terms outlined in the Supplementary Grant Conditions for the Pathfinder Award scheme.

Applications by email to should contain Reference PATHFINDERS.

Applicants must provide details of all patent applications filed before the date of this application that relate directly to the research project outlined and state the funding sources that contributed to the development of the patented technology (e.g. company collaboration, research council and/or charity funding).

With reference to the patent information provided, as appropriate:

  • Summarise the inventive step and key claims of patents or patent applications relating to the technology that have already been filed.
  • Consider whether there are any freedom to operate issues in the area of the proposed technology and consider how these will be worked through during project management.
  • Explain how the proposed experiments will add value to or strengthen an existing intellectual property position.
  • Explain the novel and inventive aspects of the Pathfinder Award project being proposed for funding.
  • Outline any likely new patent filings that may arise from this project and set out the main areas of likely claims.

Lead academic applicants: If source of personal salary support is indicated as ‘other’ and is commercial, please submit copies of any agreements between the company, yourself and/or your employer, and a written statement from the commercial body indicating that there are no ties on intellectual property that arise from research you undertake or any restrictions on publications. If there are any ties, you may not be eligible to apply to the Wellcome Trust and should contact the appropriate Funding Committee for advice.

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