Innovative Medicines Initiative

EBOLA+ Programme: A collaborative contribution from the Innovative Medicines Initiative in the global effort against Ebola

“IMI2 offers a unique opportunity to complement the ongoing European and international efforts” – from the Ebola+ second call for proposals

In 2014, the international health community was shocked to face the largest Ebola outbreak ever recorded, unprecedented in scale and geographical distribution. A number of countries in West Africa – notably Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia – have been struggling with the epidemic, and the international community has rallied to provide support to health systems and populations of the affected countries.

Just as important as helping those in need now, is finding a solution to the issue for the future. Currently, there is no licensed treatment available for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) while challenges remain in current vaccine candidates – i.e. they require very cold temperatures for stability during transport. The international health community has come together to address these issues.

Among these international efforts is the Ebola+ programme, which mobilises the pharmaceutical industry and researchers in a collaborative initiative to address current and future needs in the space of hemorraeghic fevers. Launched in November 2014, Ebola+ was established under the second Innovative Medicines Initiative, a public-private partnership between EFPIA and the European Commission. The programme’s first Call for proposals has a global budget of more than €200 million.

Ebola+ in Numbers

  • 1 call to address current outbreak
  • 200 mln joint investment to date
  • 8 projects on diverse topics
  • 3 months from the first idea to project start


Latest News

The Ebola+ Programme in a Nutshell

The current outbreak of Ebola and the fight against haemorrhagic fevers in general is an example of a challenge that requires multiple initiatives and joining forces of the entire biomedical community. Partners from IMI2 - the second Innovative Medicines Initiative –have mobilised to build a programme, Ebola+, that will address current and future needs, and that will fit into the spectrum of initiatives already in place in various countries and regions worldwide.

Ebola+ brings together the research based pharmaceutical industry, scientists and academia in a collaborative programme aimed at addressing the current outbreak, as well as future needs in the space of haemorrhagic fevers. The first call for proposals has a global budget of more than €200 million and will result in projects aimed to address the development, manufacture, transport, and storage of vaccines; ensuring compliance with vaccine regimens; and the development of rapid diagnostic tests.

Eight topics launched in January 2015 address the perse needs of the current epidemic, including development of a new vaccine, its, production and distribution, and new diagnostics that can be used at the point of care. These initial projects are a first step; additional calls and projects are under consideration to address future needs, and other filoviral fevers.

The Innovative Medicines Initiative’s Role

The multi-faceted Ebola+ programme aims to address the perse challenges that the Ebola virus presents, in an attempt to address the current outbreak as well as future outbreaks. Challenges include:

  • Currently, no licensed treatment is available for EVD;
  • Currently, no good diagnostic tests are available;
  • Rapid scaling up of candidate vaccine doses needed for current epidemic is difficult;
  • Current vaccine candidates require very cold temperatures for stability during transport;
  • Deployment (reaching those most in need) is challenging;
  • Adherence to vaccination regimens is challenging;
  • Range of products needed for current and future outbreaks.

To address these perse challenges, unlike in standard IMI calls, we invite public/private consortia have been invited to apply with a joint proposal.

In IMI and IMI2, in-kind or cash contribution from companies (pharma and non-pharma) are complemented by matched funding by the EU for SMEs and non-commercial partners that will participate in the consortium. It is therefore important that consortia are composed of both contributors and beneficiaries.

For transparency, and to allow consortia to be set up quickly, companies are encouraged to contribute to this effort and announce this as soon as possible.

More information and contacts can be found by registering to the IMI partnering tool or visiting the IMI LinkedIn group.
For more information on the first Call for proposals on the Ebola programme, visit
You can submit your ideas online at: or send them to

Find out more about Ebola and the current outbreak

Ebola virus diseases (EVD) is a rare and deadly disease. Filoviruses such as Ebola spread directly from person to person via bodily fluids. The current outbreak is unprecedented in scale and geographical distribution:

  • 8,304 deaths – probable, confirmed and suspected have been reported (9 January 2015).
  • The World Health Organization admits these figures are underestimates, given the difficulty in collecting data.
  • Deaths have been reported in six countries.

Ebola virus disease (EVD), previously known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. The virus spreads in the human population through direct human-to-human contact with the bodily fluids of infected patients who are showing symptoms. It has an incubation period of 2-21 days, and it usually begins with flu-like symptoms, but rapidly progresses to multiple organ failure and blood-clotting abnormalities that manifest as internal and external haemorrhages (bleeding). It is fatal in between 25% and 90% of cases. There is currently no licensed treatment against EVD, and the development of treatments and preventive measures such as vaccines is hampered by challenges including manufacturing-related hurdles, the stability of vaccines during transport and storage, vaccine deployment, and the time taken to diagnose cases of EVD.

Ebola is a member of the filovirus family of viruses, which also includes Marburg virus. Like Ebola, Marburg causes cause severe, often fatal haemorrhagic fever in humans and other primates (monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees), and like Ebola, it is transmitted directly from one person to another. (In contrast, other viruses that cause haemorrhagic fevers are spread via intermediate hosts – for example, dengue fever is transmitted by mosquitoes.) There is no specific treatment or vaccine against Marburg heamorrhagic fever.