Ministers announce £29m funding for life sciences research

Posted on 2 Aug 2012 by Tim Brown

Ministers have announced substantial new funding awards to boost the UK life sciences industry and medical research, as UK and international delegates meet in London for the British Business Embassy Healthcare and Life Sciences summit.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley and Universities and Science Minister David Willetts announced that the first awards totalling £10 million from Government’s £180 million Biomedical Catalyst have been awarded to fourteen UK universities and 18 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). These awards from the Medical Research Council and the Technology Strategy Board will support UK academics and businesses on the first vital step in exploring the market potential of their early-stage scientific ideas.

“We want to create a world-class NHS that makes the latest and best treatments available to patients,” said Health Secretary Andrew Lansley. “Our investment in the new MRC-NIHR Phenome Centre, the first of its kind, promises better targeted treatments for patients with a wide range of common diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and dementia.”

David Willetts also announced that the Medical Research Council and a consortium of 10 UK Government and charity research funders have invested £19 million to establish four e-health research centres in London, Manchester, Dundee and Swansea. The new centres will enable the UK to make more effective use of electronic health data – a field with huge possibilities for health care delivery and the understanding of disease.

Yesterday, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the Olympic drug-testing laboratories, located in Harlow, will be converted into a £10 million world-class research centre. The MRC-NIHR Phenome Centre, the first of its kind in the world, will use cutting edge facilities developed for London 2012 to help develop better and more targeted treatment for patients, and will enable researchers to explore the characteristics of disease in order to develop new drugs and treatments for patients.

“The UK has one of the world’s largest and most productive life science sectors,” said Minister for Life Sciences David Willetts. “We have cutting edge industries such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and medical technologies. We attract almost 10% of the world’s pharmaceutical R&D funding.

“The Global Business Summit on Life Sciences will introduce some of the world’s most important and influential sector leaders to see what the UK have to offer.”

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International business to be announced by firms at today’s summit today includes:

  • Fast Track Diagnostics Research Ltd (FTD) has announced the opening of an Indian subsidiary and said that it will be expanding its research capacity in the UK by the end of this year. FTD designs and produces a wide range of assessment procedures enabling the simultaneous detection of a wide range of infections. It is anticipated that the company will contribute several hundred thousand pounds to UK export revenue each year.
  • Morningside Pharmaceuticals Ltd, a multi-award-winning British company dedicated to providing affordable healthcare to aid agencies, has announced a €177K (£139k) contract with Unicef to deliver the medicine Podophylloxtin Solution, used to treat sexually transmitted diseases, to Malawi. This contract brings Morningside’s sales to Unicef’s Supply Division over the last 12 months to more than £3 million, and further builds on the company’s growth, which has been driven by export sales growth of 223% over the past six years.
  • Inanovate, a US-based company with expertise in protein screening to support research, drug development and clinical diagnostics, is to create a new biology post at its UK base in the West Midlands to support a recently-announced sepsis research project. Working as part of a consortium with the University of Manchester and Brighton University, supported by a Technology Strategy Board grant, the project will use Inanovate’s unique screening platform to aid diagnosis of the early onset of sepsis.