Coeliac UK and the UK’s Innovation Agency, Innovate UK, are now taking applications from businesses and researchers wishing to access a fund of £750,000 to improve the detection and management of coeliac disease.

The competition allows researchers and businesses to apply for a share of the funding through three priority themes – healthcare diagnostics, digital self-care tools and better gluten free food production – with the grants ranging from £50,000 to £250,000.

Coeliac UK launched the research fund earlier this year along with a target of raising £5 million to “change the future for people with coeliac disease and gluten related autoimmune conditions”.

The Fund has already received £500,000 from Innovate UK, which, in addition to £250,000 from the charity itself, is supporting the current research competition. Together with match funding from industry, total spend on new research for a growing global market will be nearer £1 million, the charity 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,” noted Calum Murray, head of agriculture and food at Innovate UK.

“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.’’

One in 100 people in the UK has coeliac disease - where the body’s immune system reacts to gluten found in food, making the body attack itself - and it currently takes an average of 13 years for the condition to be detected. According to the charity, half a million people in the country remain undiagnosed.