Seven major research and innovation projects across the UK have today (Friday 26 June) received over £400 million in government and industry funding. Businesses and universities in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff, Bristol, Liverpool and Kent are all set to benefit, as well as £114 million for a consortium led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, which is ensuring innovative, new healthcare products and solutions to combat human infections are made available in the North West faster and cheaper. This could help simplify diagnosis, reduce the need to draw blood and risks from contaminated needles.
This latest investment is part of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) flagship Strength in Places Fund, which aims to support promising research and innovation projects that will drive local economic growth. Projects announced today will receive a share of £186 million of government investment, backed by a further £230 million from private firms and research institutions.
These funds will ensure projects such as zero-emissions tech for maritime vessels, smart-packaging to cut food waste, and new health products to combat infections get the investment they need to take off. Each programme will deliver long-term economic benefits in every part of the UK, creating thousands of jobs, new skills, and encouraging more competitive and future-proof industries as our economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
£114 million for healthcare
The AMR Centre has combined forces to attract much needed investment to combat the global threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) resulting in a successful bid for a £114 million project supported by the UKRI Strength in Places Fund.
The funding was secured by a North West UK based consortium that will work in partnership to create an integrated platform for the development of new treatments and diagnostics for infectious diseases. The core partners on the consortium, which will be led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, are: AMR Centre, Evotec, Unilever, University of Liverpool, Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen Universities Hospital Trust and Alderley Park, Bruntwood SciTech.
Based at Alderley Park, Cheshire, the AMR Centre is focused on accelerating the development of new treatments for drug-resistant infections through a fully integrated development capability, offering translational R&D from pre-clinical hits through to clinical proof of concept. The AMR Centre will receive a £4.55m share of Government funding over the next five years to progress its lead assets into clinical trials and bring forward pre-clinical projects.
The SIPF funding comes during a key period for antimicrobial resistance research, with the NHS currently collaborating with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on a pilot project under which NHS England will evaluate and procure two AMR drugs on a trial basis – de-linking the valuation and reward payments from the medicines’ usage, which has a been key impediment to getting new antibiotics to market.
Peter Jackson, executive director of The AMR Centre, said: “This is an important milestone for the AMR Centre and will have a positive ripple effect in the global community focused on antimicrobial resistance. New resistance mechanisms are constantly emerging, putting in jeopardy our ability to treat common infectious diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, sepsis and gonorrhea. This funding will enable us to propel forward our exciting clinical programs and expand our work with other life sciences companies - in particular smaller biotechs - to develop innovative technologies to treat AMR.
“This funding, in conjunction with the ongoing NHS/NICE trial, is further confirmation of the UK’s role at the forefront of the global response to antimicrobial resistance. There is currently real momentum, and, although there is very long way to go, the SIPF award takes us one step closer to get new drugs to patients suffering life-threatening infections around the world.
“The terrible impact of coronavirus has demonstrated the importance of preparedness against infectious diseases – antimicrobial resistance is already one of the world’s most pressing issues, but the work that we will deliver in the coming years will lay the groundwork for saving many lives for decades to come.”
Dr Kath Mackay, managing director of Bruntwood SciTech - Alderley Park, added: “Today’s announcement recognises the economic importance of the life science sector, its role in accelerating economic growth and the world-class research and development facilities we have here at Alderley Park and across the North West. As part of the consortium, and alongside businesses such as Evotec that are also based here at Alderley Park, we’re proud to have played our part in helping to secure this funding.
"There has never been a greater need for investment in the fight against infectious diseases and with committed funding for the next five years, the AMR Centre is in an even stronger position to continue its charge on antimicrobial resistance. It will now be able to collaborate with organisations across the life science sector, many of which are based at Alderley Park, to develop new treatments and diagnostics in the fight against infectious diseases, and we’re committed to continuing our support of such an important project.”
The consortium will establish the North West of England as the national and international centre for translational R&D, providing industry with access to a progressive repository of methodologies and improved models for product development for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of critical infectious diseases.
The government will provide the consortium with £19m of funding from UKRI which will be matched with £95m from other public, private sector and philanthropic organisations over a five year period.
Government doubles Fast Start investment
Today’s funding announcement also follows the government doubling investment in its Fast Start Competition to £40 million to drive forward new technological advances and support the UK’s next generation of innovative businesses.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “Today’s announcement will ensure some of our country’s most promising R&D projects get the investment they need to take off and thrive. Working with the private sector and our world-class universities, we’re backing new and innovative ideas that will create jobs and boost skills in every part of the UK for years to come.”
The 7 projects across the UK receiving funding today are:
£44 million for a consortium led by Cardiff University, to group capabilities in South Wales developing technologies in areas such as communications, 5G, innovative vehicles and medical devices
£114 million for a consortium led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, which is ensuring innovative, new healthcare products and solutions to combat human infections are made available in the North West faster and cheaper. This could help simplify diagnosis, reduce the need to draw blood and risks from contaminated needles
£55 million for a consortium led by the University of Edinburgh to fund research to understand financial behaviours and address financial challenges such as fair access to credit, property ownership and saving
£46 million for a consortium led by the University of Bristol to support new digital formats in film making in the South West including new experiences across fiction, documentary, games and live performance
£33 million for a consortium led by the National Institute of Agriculture Botany EMR at East Malling to increase investment in emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), automation and smart-packaging for food production to help improve efficiencies and reduce waste
£91 million for a consortium led by the University of Glasgow to translate new approaches in precision medicine into real-world settings, which will allow doctors to select treatments for patients based on a disease’s genetics
£63 million for a consortium led by Artemis Technologies Ltd to develop zero-emissions technologies in Northern Ireland for the introduction of wind-electric hybrids for maritime vessels, including a new zero emissions water taxi scheme