The Biomedical Catalyst funding is part of the government’s Strategy for Life Sciences – launched in December last year to support innovations in life sciences. The funding is the result of a collaboration between the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Technology Strategy Board.
Prime Minister David Cameron claimed that the scheme would benefit both patients and the UK economy by supporting academics and SMEs. “This programme will help to ensure that they can turn their promising ideas into innovative technologies,” he said.
The scheme will offer three categories of grants awards – feasibility awards will total up to £150,000, while early and late stage awards could be up to £3m.
David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science announced the opening of the fund at a life sciences roundtable event in Japan. “One of the key challenges is tackling the so-called ‘valley of death’” said Mr Willets. “This exists between the moment that a bright new idea is developed in the laboratory and the point when a new drug or technology can be invested in by the market.”
“The £180m Biomedical Catalyst programme will bridge this funding gap and support innovative businesses and our research base” he added.
Support from the Biomedical Catalyst scheme will be available for projects coming from a range of sectors or disciplines that address healthcare challenges for example, stratified therapy development, regenerative medicine, diagnostics, eHealth and mHealth solutions, enabling medical technologies and devices. The programme will seek to support those opportunities which demonstrate the highest scientific and commercial potential, irrespective of medical area.
Sir John Savill, chief executive of the MRC said: “We are particularly keen to help SMEs engage with clinical proof of concept studies, where partnerships with academic research groups and patient participation are vital.”
“It will also build on the significant investment we have made in our existing translational research initiatives to help us deliver the health impacts of fundamental research to people more quickly,” he added.