More collaboration between business and universities needed to boost UK economy

24 October 2012

Pharmaceutical company UCB has called on the UK Government to ensure that new measures designed to strengthen partnerships between universities, business and the NHS actually deliver results which will place the UK at the forefront of medical research now and in the future.

The company has given some of the most promising PhD research scientists and their academic supervisors from across the UK the opportunity to network and gain skills that transition across university and business environments.

UCB says it is doing its part through a rolling programme which aims to build networks and provide world class training for the next generation of science leaders. UCB is currently supporting 45 PhD students through access to cutting-edge technology, supervision and placement opportunities in company laboratories.

The company also covers the costs of laboratory consumables at their home university and tops–up direct grants awarded by government research councils. Over the course of a PhD, UCB invests around £70k worth of support per researcher. The current commitment stands at £3.15m with more PhDs to be enrolled in the scheme in years ahead.

Neil Weir, Senior Vice President of Discovery, UCB, and Chair of the Innovation Board of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said: “Success in scientific innovation is increasingly built on rapid exchange of ideas between academic and industrial sectors. The reality is that the scientist of tomorrow will need the skills to be effective in both environments.

"Supporting academic science is at the heart of UCB’s strategy for the future of medical research. The Government published a review earlier this year which called for greater business-university collaboration. If this is fulfilled, the next Review will report that universities are firmly at the heart of our economy, collaborating with business and government in generating the wealth that is necessary for a healthy and prosperous society.”

UCB’s PhD Networking Day enables scientists from different institutions to exchange ideas and spur opportunities for collaboration. The students present on their projects, gaining experience on public speaking that will prove valuable as their scientific career progresses with prizes awarded for the best talks. Attendees also benefited from advice from the Medical Research Council and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council on how to secure funding and heard a keynote address on the latest in antibody research.

Professor Christopher Schofield, Head of Organic Chemistry, Oxford University, whose students attended the PhD day said “Networking and collaborating between universities and pharmaceutical companies is critical to ensure the UK's future competitiveness in one of our most important industries. Connecting academics and industry, as we have done at the UCB networking day, will help ensure that we breakdown boundaries between academia and industry and allow us to capitalise on the UK's fantastic scientific research credentials in biomedical research.”


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