Government fund will take bright ideas for medical devices from the lab to the marketplace
The Prime Minister has this week announced a £180m government scheme that will help to address the ‘valley of death’ faced by UK life science companies looking to get their innovative ideas for medical breakthroughs into the healthcare marketplace.
The Biomedical Catalyst is a key element of the Strategy for Life Sciences which was launched by David Cameron in December last year. It will see the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Technology Strategy Board working together to provide grant funding for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and academics looking to develop solutions to the most pressing healthcare challenges facing the modern world.
The Government is absolutely committed to ensuring the future success of the UK’s life sciences industry and one of the key challenges is tackling the so-called ‘valley of death’ that exists between the moment a bright new idea is developed and the point when a new drug or technology can be invested in by the market
The programme will accept promising ideas that demonstrate the potential to provide significant positive healthcare and economic impact. It will particularly support the development of innovative technologies emerging from partnerships between clinicians, academics and industry.
Cameron, said: "The UK boasts a world-leading life sciences sector which is changing at an incredible pace, and I'm absolutely committed to helping it widen its significant foothold in the global market.
"Benefiting both patients and the British economy, this £180m programme will support both SMEs and academics and help to ensure they can turn their promising ideas into innovative technologies."
Announcing the opening of the fund at a life sciences roundtable event in Japan, Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, added: “The Government is absolutely committed to ensuring the future success of the UK’s life sciences industry and one of the key challenges is tackling the so-called ‘valley of death’. 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 Biomedical Catalyst programme will bridge this funding gap and support innovative businesses and our research base, bringing benefits for patients and the economy.”
Benefiting both patients and the British economy, this £180m programme will support both SMEs and academics and help to ensure they can turn their promising ideas into innovative technologies
Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said they hoped to generate a new generation of British medical breakthroughs and develop a seamless system that would take innovations from concept to commercialisation.
Under the programme, three categories of grant awards will be available – feasibility, early stage and late stage. Any SME or academic undertaking research and development, either individually or working in collaboration, may apply and applications will be accepted at any time. Individual grants to businesses will range from a maximum of £150,000for feasibility awards to £3m for early and late stage projects.
Examples of solutions being sought include stratified therapy development, regenerative medicine, diagnostics, eHealth and mHealth solutions, and enabling medical technologies and devices.
Sir John Savill, chief executive of the Medical Research Council, said: “This will give SMEs greater access to leading academic researchers and patient groups. 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.”