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Chancellor announces drug R&D funding boost in Catapult expansion

Published on 14/07/15 at 10:54am
R&D lab at Alderley Park
Alderley Park will benefit from £5 million investment for a medicines technologies Catapult

Chancellor George Osborne is giving UK drug R&D a £5 million vote of confidence, after promising new investment into two centres to ramp up innovation and access to precision medicines.

At a visit to Redx Pharmaceuticals in Cheshire this week, Mr Osborne announced that Alderley Park in C‎heshire will host a new centre in medicines technologies, in a move to support the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ of industry the Government has vowed to create.

The Government will create a new Catapult centre – the latest in a network of centres run by Innovate UK to stimulate economic growth in key areas.

Alderley Park already has strong links to UK pharma R&D, where it houses a community of innovative science and technology. It will receive the funding in 2015-16, to build on the £69 million investment in Catapults that the Chancellor announced in the 2014 Budget.

This week the Chancellor also announced that Cambridge will be the host of a new precision medicine Catapult, with regional centres of excellence in the North of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Southern England.

The aim of funding the new Catapult is to promote the UK as a leader in this field. Precision medicine aims to ensure each patient gets the most appropriate, predictable, safe and cost-effective treatment, based on an understanding of their genomic makeup.

The Cambridge headquarters and regional centres are expected to have up to 100 staff once up and running, building on pharma R&D’s presence in this area. It is part of a wider £6 billion UK precision medicine strategy first announced by the Coalition Government in December 2015.

The ABPI’s executive director of research, medical and innovation Dr Virginia Acha, says: "We have been looking forward to today's announcement which really sets in motion the British leadership on precision medicine and the recognition of its value for patients and society.

"The Catapult can be the galvanising force to bring together many of the policies and investments made by industry, the charity sector, academia and Government to the ultimate aim – an advancement in our understanding and treatment of disease."

While Dr Eliot Forster, executive chair of London’s MedCity, hailed the announcement as a boost to the UK’s health and economy.

“This is a great move to put the UK at the forefront of this burgeoning area of science. It will attract significant interest and new investment. Individualisation is the future of healthcare – delivering the right treatment at the right time to the right patient means better health outcomes, a more cost-efficient health service and the faster development of new therapies.

“The new catapult will give a real boost to our capacity to commercialise our innovative research in precision medicine, with the consequence of far-reaching health and economic benefits. This is a substantial and very welcome addition to the UK’s rich life sciences ecosystem.”

Lilian Anekwe

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