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Industry welcomes UK’s £6bn science strategy

It will provide funding for projects including a big data collaboration and an ageing-focused innovation centre
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The UK has committed £6bn to support the growth of its science industry in a move welcomed by both the pharma and biotech industries.

The Science and Innovation Strategy, formally announced yesterday by universities, science and cities minister Greg Clark at the Royal Society, outlines key priorities to support science and innovation in the UK over the next six years.

It includes £3bn to support individual projects and to support existing laboratories at universities and research institutes. Half of this fund will be subject to competition to “ensure excellence is rewarded wherever it is found”, says the report.

A further £2.9bn will be available to fund large-scale science investments, including an initial investment of £800m.

This first wave of funding will be split among several projects including £235m for the creation of new facilities for advanced materials in Manchester, £113m to support a big data collaboration with IBM and £95m to enable the UK's leading role in the next European Rover mission to Mars.

Other prospects include an innovation centre on ageing in Newcastle and the extension of the capabilities of the National Nuclear Users Facility, a facility that gives access to experimental equipment for nuclear research on radioactive materials.

greg clark mpScience minister Clark (pictured right) said: “This strategy builds on the great strengths of British science and enterprise and will make sure the UK is the best place in the world to do science and grow an innovative business.

“This support to our scientific infrastructure means we will equal the best in the world.”

The investment was welcomed by industry bodies the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and the BioIndustry Association (BIA).

Stephen Whitehead, CEO of the ABPI, had particular praise for the UK's promise to create two 'catapult' centres in energy systems and precision medicine next year.

"I hope that the strategy leads to a focus on sharpening the translational focus in academic discovery and bolstering its pull-through to commercially viable new therapies. This would help to underpin industry investment in the UK,” said Whitehead.

The BIA's CEO Steve Bates added: “In the Science and Innovation Strategy it's great to see a long-term government plan setting out capital commitments which take into account several recommendations the BIA made on behalf of its membership and the wider life sciences sector, such as the equitable split in funding for higher education and maintaining the UK's world class labs alongside large scale investments in major national and international projects.”

Article by
Thomas Meek

18th December 2014

From: Research, Healthcare

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