Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI)

The Innovative Medicines Initiative, IMI, is a partnership between the European Commission and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). It was created to address a fundamental challenge of drug discovery – that development of a new medicine is too slow, costs too much, and is inefficient.

IMI supports large collaborative projects involving universities, the pharmaceutical and other industries, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), patient organisations, and regulators.

IMI 2 priorities

The first phase of IMI ran from 2008-2013. The second phase, IMI 2, runs from 2014-2024. IMI 2 aims to:

  • Increase the success rate in clinical trials of priority medicines identified by the WHO
  • Reduce the time to reach clinical proof of concept in medicine development, such as for cancer, immunological, respiratory, neurological and neurodegenerative diseases
  • Develop new therapies for diseases for which there is a high unmet need, such as Alzheimer’s disease and limited market incentives, such as antimicrobial resistance
  • Develop diagnostic and treatment biomarkers for diseases clearly linked to clinical relevance and approved by regulators
  • Reduce the failure rate of vaccine candidates in phase III clinical trials
  • Improve the current drug development process

The IMI 2 Strategic Research Agenda, published on the IMI website, gives a more detailed overview of the aims of the programme, as well as the European Health Priorities it aims to address.  

IMI 2 budget and funding structure

IMI is a public-private partnership (PPP). The IMI 2 programme has a €3.3 billion budget for the period 2014-2024, of which half comes from Horizon 2020, the EU's framework programme for research and innovation. A further €1.425 billion is contributed by EFPIA companies, and up to €213 million can be committed by other life science industries or organisations (Associated Partners). EFPIA companies and Associated Partners do not receive any EU funding when they participate in IMI projects, but contribute to the projects ‘in kind’.

IMI 2 topics and calls for proposals

IMI 2 releases calls for proposals relatively frequently (12 since the start of IMI 2 in 2014), but at irregular intervals and with varying numbers of topics per call. The calls are ‘top-down’, meaning that the research topic is always pre-defined and the call text is quite specific about what the applicant consortia should aim to achieve.

It is possible to obtain some information before calls are released. A list of topics that are under consideration for inclusion in future IMI Calls is published on the IMI website and, in addition, more detailed information on call topics is generally made available several weeks before the release of each new call. To stay up to date with upcoming IMI calls, subscribe to their newsletter.

IMI 2 application and review procedures

The majority of IMI2 calls are two-stage applications, but the process differs from other 2-stage H2020 applications. A new IMI call is launched when a number of EFPIA companies agree on the need to cooperate on a specific topic. These companies (and potentially IMI-associated partners) become the industry consortium, which is therefore pre-formed before the call is published.

Stage 1 is an open call for short proposals. Applicant consortia, consisting of academic groups together with e.g. SMEs, patient organisations and regulatory agencies, submit short proposals which are reviewed by independent experts and ranked.

In stage 2, the first-ranked applicant consortium from stage 1 is invited to combine with the pre-formed industry consortium and submit a joint full proposal. Only one applicant consortium is taken forward to stage 2; the second-ranked consortium will be invited only if the first is unable to produce a full proposal with the industry consortium.

Partnering tools

Networking is extremely important if you wish to build or join an IMI applicant consortium. One way to make contact with potential partners is to use the IMI-specific partnering tools that are available online. The two biggest are IMI’s own, and one produced by the German National Contact Point for Life Sciences.

Support from Grants Office

For more information regarding IMI, and support with your application, please contact jodie.guy.claesson@ki.se.

Funding