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New fund for research into coeliac disease and gluten-free food production

Food businesses can secure the funding by creating more nutritious and affordable gluten free food. This could include using novel ingredients, creating foods with improved nutrient profiles and desired flavour texture characteristics, and working with new methods of preservation.

R&D: The research grant launch coincides with Coeliac UK's 50th anniversary

Coeliac UK and Innovate UK have opened applications for a £750,000 fund. Researchers and businesses can apply for a share of the money through three priority themes – healthcare diagnostics, digital self-care tools and better gluten free food production – with the grants ranging from £50k to £250k. 

Earlier in the year, as part of the charity’s 50th Anniversary activities, Coeliac UK launched the research fund and accompanying fundraising appeal, aiming to raise £5 million to change the future for people with coeliac disease and gluten related autoimmune conditions.

The fund has already received an injection of £500k from Innovate UK which in addition to £250k from the charity, will support this new research competition.

Together with match funding from industry total spend on new research for a growing global market will be nearer £1m.

Sarah Sleet, Chief Executive of Coeliac UK said: “With the global diagnosis for coeliac disease increasing year on year, this is a chance for UK business and researchers to get ahead and develop competitive advantages in innovation which will be of benefit to a badly underserved patient group.

“We are thrilled to be working with Innovate UK to promote innovation that will have a real and positive impact on people’s lives.”

Calum Murray, Head of Agriculture and Food at Innovate UK, said: “By funding great new ideas which will help diagnose and care for people with coeliac disease and by encouraging tasty new developments in gluten free food, this competition promises to make a real difference.

“Not just for those living with coeliac disease but it will help fuel innovation in our food and health sectors – crucial components of the government’s industrial strategy. This competition is a first for Innovate UK in how we have teamed up with the leading charity Coeliac UK to boost the funding available for fantastic new proposals from industry and academia.’’

The three priority themes are:

1. Coeliac disease diagnostics

New methods of diagnosis which are less invasive, or that are accurate without eating gluten could improve diagnosis rates and lead to early effective treatment, in turn leading to better quality of life and reduced risk of complications for patients with the condition.

2. Enhanced quality of gluten free foods

Creating more nutritious and affordable gluten free food could include; novel ingredients, foods with improved nutrient profiles and desired flavour texture characteristics, new methods of preservation, innovation in processing and manufacturing efficiency for lower cost options and technologies to improve shelf life.

3. Digitally supported self-care

Coeliac disease is a serious autoimmune condition which requires lifelong management. Selfcare using digital tools could provide a highly cost effective option for health management.

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