UCL and the University of Cambridge along with the NIHR Biomedical Research Centres at each site have supported a successful bid to work in partnership with industry to develop biomedical discoveries into new products and therapies.
The award is a vote of confidence in the NIHR BRCs and their ability to work in collaboration with academic and industry partners. The award, part of the £50m Higher Education Council for England (HEFCE) Catalyst Fund, will allow UCL and Cambridge University to develop a collaborative research base through their respective BRCs, bringing together the skills, expertise and facilities of the commercial sector with the scientific and research capabilities of the two universities.
The two partners will work together within the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst to fast track home grown drug development.
The Bioscience Catalyst is located adjacent to GlaxoSmithKline and is the UK’s first open innovation bioscience campus, driving early stage life science developments.
Researchers will also have access to drug discovery and development expertise, screening and compound profiling technologies, journals, lab equipment, meeting rooms and facilities. Tenancy at the Bioscience Catalyst will also facilitate productive interactions between other researchers, SMEs and start-up biotech.
“The open innovation programme at the SBC is an important way for us to take the world-leading research and Cambridge and UCL and, in collaboration with industry, translate it into new therapies, companies and jobs,” said Dr Iain Thomas of Cambridge Enterprise, the University’s commercialisation arm.
The project will bring together an innovative partnership of universities and the Trust Strategy Board Catapult Centres (Cell Therapy and High-Value Manufacturing).
Professor Bryan Williams, UCL BRC Director said: “This is an outstanding example of how we can leverage the world class science at UCL and the outstanding research capabilities within the NHS and the NIHR University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre to deliver new treatments to our patients.”
Professor Stephen Caddick, Vice-Provost for Enterprise at UCL added: “UCL has been working closely with other institutions for some time to speed up the process of taking medical innovations produced by university research from lab bench to bedside. We are delighted that our leading position has been recognised by this new funding and that, through our project in Stevenage, we will contribute to growing the British economy and creating jobs.”
The HEFCE Catalyst Fund aims to drive innovation in higher education by funding initiatives which support economic growth or lead to step-changes in priority areas such as student engagement and success, and learning and teaching. This replaced the Strategic Development Fund as the route for discretionary investment to support the objectives of the HEFCE.
Dr John Bradley, Director of the NIHR Cambridge BRC added: "We are delighted to be part of this initiative. The NIHR BRCs were established to facilitate exactly this sort of collaboration, not just at local level within our own research facilities, but with research teams across the NIHR and internationally. The collaboration between UCL and Cambridge BRCs will bring benefits to both Universities and ultimately to patients through improved treatments and care."