Innovative business and academic projects from across the U.K.’s health sector will benefit from a new £93.2 million ($118.8 million) package of support announced by Universities and Science Minister David Willetts.
The investment includes £25.9 million ($33.3 million) from round three of the Biomedical Catalyst. Twenty-nine companies and five universities will receive investment from the Catalyst. Projects include clinical trials to “repurpose” a cancer drug that could be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and an implant to reduce pain and restore mobility to knee cartilage injuries.
As part of the recent Spending Review it was announced that there will be additional support for the Catalyst. Academic researchers and universities can continue to apply for additional funding through the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and Medical Research Council (MRC) in round four of the Biomedical Catalyst, which is now open.
In a further boost to the biomedical industry, a new £38 million ($48.6 million) National Biologics Manufacturing Centre (NBMC) will be based in Darlington. The center, being funded through investment announced as part of the life sciences strategy, will be a national base for the manufacturing of biological medicines such as antibodies and vaccines.
To complete the package of support, a further £29.3 million ($37.4 million) 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.
Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said, “By investing in new technologies now, we are maintaining the U.K.’s position as a world leader for innovation. The biomedical industry is a fast moving, high growth sector and the Catalyst has proven to be extremely successful in supporting new business ideas. This investment further drives forward our life sciences strategy.
“The new National Biologics Manufacturing Centre will significantly increase the U.K.’s manufacturing capability in biologics, keeping us ahead in the global race and strengthening the U.K.’s position as the location of choice for life sciences companies.”
Professor Sir John Savill, chief executive of the MRC, said, “Several of the MRC and Technology Strategy Board awards announced build on previous MRC funding and this research is now reaching an exciting stage of clinical development. It’s fantastic to see this investment beginning to bear fruit. It clearly demonstrates that the Biomedical Catalyst is fulfilling its goal of providing seamless support from early research in universities through to commercialization by small and medium-sized companies.”
The Technology Strategy Board is continuing to invest in a range of innovative businesses. Working alongside the Department for Health, £7.3 million will be invested in four companies looking to develop personalized approaches to healthcare, known as stratified medicine. This will allow patients to be assessed quickly, effectively and be given the correct treatment for their condition.
£5.6 million will be invested in five business-led collaborative projects looking to develop new diagnostic tests for Tuberculosis (TB). These will allow healthcare staff to get rapid results when testing and has resulted in an additional £2.9 million in private sector investment.
An £8.4 million investment has also been made by the Technology Strategy Board 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 £5.1 million in private sector investment.
In total these projects alone are worth £29.3 million of investment to the industry.