Reducing Drug Deaths Innovation Challenge Open for Applications

Reducing fatal overdose using drug overdose detection, response and intervention technology

The UK Office for Life Sciences (OLS) and the Scottish Health Industry Partnership (SHIP), part of the Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office, are funding an innovation competition to develop disruptive innovative solutions that focus on detection of, response to and intervention in overdose episodes. The competition is also being run in close consultation with the Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive to ensure the patient testing data gathered on innovative products is relevant for regulation and deployment across all four nations.

This open innovation challenge call specifically provides an opportunity for companies, working in partnership with test bed research partners across the UK to develop disruptive innovative solutions that focus on detecting, responding to and intervening in early acute risk of non-fatal and fatal overdose episodes.

The Reducing Drug Deaths Innovation Challenge is now open for applications.

  • Applicants are invited to apply for a share of a total challenge fund of £5,000,000.
  • The challenge offers applicants an opportunity to bid for funding to develop innovative solutions that focus on detection of, response to, and intervention in potentially fatal drug overdose episodes.
  • This challenge is being funded by investment through the Addiction Healthcare Mission, led by the UK government Office for Life Sciences (OLS), and the Scottish Health Industry Partnership (SHIP), part of the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientist Office (CSO),
  • The challenge aims to deliver on shared aims, from the Addiction Mission, Scottish Government’s National Mission and UK’s Drugs Strategy, of preventing drug related deaths and harms, through supporting new innovative interventions.
  • Two Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competitions are open to applicants based on their existing stage of product development

o   A feasibility studies competition for products that require support at the prototype development stage where applicants can receive an initial £100,000 for a 4-month project. Successful projects at this phase will be invited bid for up to a further £500,000 for a 12-month product demonstration and patient testing project.

o   A demonstration competition for applicants who have technology already at an advanced stage of development, near ready to be deployed in a real-world environment, where applicants can bid immediately for up to £500,000 for a 12-month project

Applications to both competitions are open until 21/04/2023

Potential areas of focus

Priority areas for projects include technologies with the following applications: 

  • Discrete digital technology solutions with intuitive and simple patient and responder centric design,
  • Simple alert or responder pathways that create effective responses to potentially fatal overdose events,
  • Enhance the ability to self-monitor by people who use drugs,
  • Improved equity of access, detection, and response in this vulnerable population through connected and safe digitalised platforms,
  • Enhance simple live intelligent data gathering processes, surveillance, and remote monitoring,
  • Enhance innovative intervention therapeutics as antidotes to overdose episodes.

Possible innovative mechanisms and technologies could include:  

  • Wearable devices or patches
  • Remote monitoring
  • GPS receivers
  • Smartphone apps
  • Decentralised application environments
  • AI and machine learning
  • Virtual reality and augmented reality
  • Gamification
  • Data analytics
  • Therapeutics.


The fund is open to applications from any type of organisation of any size, registered in the UK, European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA) that can demonstrate a credible and practical route to market.

Applicants must work in conjunction with a suitable UK based test bed research partner to develop their solution.

Projects should set out to acquire evidence which will support future product approval and use of innovations across all the UK health systems (Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England).

Further information

The competition briefs and application forms with full details are now available on Innovate UK:

SBRI: Overdose detection, response and intervention – feasibility 
SBRI: Overdose detection, response and intervention demonstration 

Supplementary information and background is available at SBRI Reducing Drug Deaths – Supplementary Information for Applicants 

A launch event, to provide an opportunity for applicants to learn more about the competition and ask questions, will be held on 10 February at 11am, GMT. Register to attend at SBRI Reducing Drug Deaths – Launch Event 

If you have any questions about the challenge scope or requirements, please email or