UK government invests £93m in healthcare research

Published: 31-Jul-2013

A new £38m National Biologics Manufacturing Centre will be based in Darlington

Innovative business and academic projects across the UK’s health sector will benefit from a £93.2m package of support announced today (Wednesday) by Universities and Science Minister David Willetts.

Twenty-nine companies and five universities will receive £25.9m from Round 3 of the Biomedical Catalyst. Projects include clinical trials to ‘repurpose’ a cancer drug that could be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

The drug works by targeting a different type of cell from conventional therapies and could therefore succeed where conventional treatments have failed. The drug is being developed by Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals, a University of Dundee spin-out that has received two previous rounds of Biomedical Catalyst funding.

As part of the recent Spending Review, there will be additional support for the Catalyst. Academic researchers and universities can continue to apply for this funding through the Technology Strategy Board and Medical Research Council (MRC) in Round 4 of the Biomedical Catalyst, which is now open.

By investing in new technologies now we are maintaining the UK’s position as a world leader for innovation

The new £38m National Biologics Manufacturing Centre (NBMC), to be operated by CPI, the process industry element of the government’s national manufacturing strategy called the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, will be a national base for the manufacturing of biological medicines such as antibodies and vaccines.

To complete the package of support, a further £29.3m of investment in healthcare innovation has been announced through three Technology Strategy Board-led funding competitions. These will support businesses in areas such as stratified medicine and regenerative medicine.

Of this investment, £7.3m will be invested in four companies looking to develop personalised approaches to healthcare, known as stratified medicine.

In addition, £5.6m will be invested in five business-led collaborative projects looking to develop new diagnostic tests for Tuberculosis (TB) and an £8.4m investment will be made in seven companies and business led consortiums exploring healthcare solutions in regenerative medicine and cell therapy. These businesses will look at using cells to develop treatments for a range of conditions including strokes and surgical procedures. The funding has attracted a further £5.1m in private sector investment.

‘By investing in new technologies now we are maintaining the UK’s position as a world leader for innovation,’ said Willetts.

‘The new National Biologics Manufacturing Centre will significantly increase the UK’s manufacturing capability in biologics, keeping us ahead in the global race and strengthening the UK’s position as the location of choice for life sciences companies.’

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, added: ‘The projects funded through this latest round of the programme demonstrate both the innovative nature of the UK’s health R&D sector and the success of the programme in identifying projects with strong commercial potential.’

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