UK government announces £93m support for medtech sector

31 July 2013

The UK government has announced awards from the Biomedical Catalyst fund for research projects, a new National Biologics Manufacturing Centre and joint investment in medtech companies by the Technology Strategy Board and the Department for Health.

The investment includes £25.9 million from Round 3 of the Biomedical Catalyst in which 29 companies and five universities will receive investment. 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.

A new £38m National Biologics Manufacturing Centre (NBMC) will be based in Darlington. The centre, 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 £29.3m 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.

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said, “By investing in new technologies now we are maintaining the UK’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 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.”

Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, Iain Gray said, “The Biomedical Catalyst programme has already proved a significant success, providing the support companies need to develop their innovations and solve healthcare challenges.

“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.”

Professor Sir John Savill, Chief Executive of the MRC, said, “Several of the MRC and Technology Strategy Board awards announced today 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 commercialisation by small and medium-sized companies. We look forward to continuing our successful collaboration with the Technology Strategy Board into round 4 and beyond.”

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 personalised 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 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.

Further information

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

The Biomedical Catalyst is a joint Technology Strategy Board and Medical Research Council programme for SMEs and researchers to help bridge the so-called "valley of death" between lab and market place. The £180m fund has already invested £96m in 115 academic and business-led projects.


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