BIA members amongst winners of latest Biomedical Catalyst funding round as total investment from the initiative reaches £350 mi

The latest round of Biomedical Catalyst awards has today been announced, with funding from Innovate UK and the Medical Research Council (MRC) totalling a combined £32 million. This latest announcement brings the total investment from the initiative – including Innovate UK, MRC and leveraged funding from industry – to £350 million since its launch in 2011.

This latest round sees over £8.4 million awarded across five separate business-led projects by Innovate UK, bringing the total number of industry-led projects to be awarded Biomedical Catalyst funding to 168. The MRC has also awarded over £23 million to 28 academic-led projects at UK universities, including 20 Confidence in Concept awards.

All business-led projects to be considered as part of the latest round were Late Stage projects, with BIA members amongst the industry winners:  
– In a joint MRC and Innovate UK funded project, London-based Autifony Therapeutics has received over £2.4 million to support the first-in-humans trial of a drug that targets one of the defects in the brain linked to schizophrenia. The drug has been characterised in preclinical studies under an Early Stage Innovate UK award. 
– eXmoor Pharma Concepts, based in Somerset, has been awarded over £1.1 million to develop their closed point of care preparation device into a market-ready piece of equipment, for the tertiary processing of cell therapies in order to be able to extend the shelf life of valuable products, remove uncertainty in the final processing and increase patient safety.

Steve Bates, Chief Executive Officer of the BIA, commented: “It’s great to see BIA member companies amongst those receiving funding in this latest round. With total investment now at £350 million, the Biomedical Catalyst has helped accelerate the development of a number of innovative treatments and products to enable real patient benefits over the last few years. It is critical that whoever holds the keys to power after the General Election gets behind the continuation of this scheme that has done so much to drive innovation.”

Dr Charles Large, Autifony Therapeutics’ Chief Executive Officer and co-founder said: “We are delighted to be receiving this Late Stage Biomedical Catalyst award. It enables us to build on the very successful preclinical collaboration with the University of Manchester and Newcastle University which was funded by an Early Stage Biomedical Catalyst award, and to take forward our programme for treatment of schizophrenia into clinical trials. Without funding from the Biomedical Catalyst, we would not have been able to progress the programme to this stage and are looking forward to continuing development of what has potential to be a breakthrough in schizophrenia treatment.”

Dr Angela Osborne, eXmoor Pharma’s Managing Director said: “We are very excited to receive this Late Stage Biomedical Catalyst award which provides eXmoor pharma and Amercare the opportunity to bring to market closed cell washing and DMSO removal equipment for use with small volume cell therapies. This also provides us the opportunity to establish Closed Cell Systems Ltd to offer process development to cell therapy manufacturers with a focus on closing and automating their processes followed by the supply of bespoke technology.”

Notes to editors

The Biomedical Catalyst
The Biomedical Catalyst is a funding programme jointly operated by Innovate UK and the Medical Research Council (MRC) which provides responsive and effective support for the best translational life science opportunities arising in the UK and aims to help take projects from research to as close to commercial viability as possible. Three categories of grant are available through the Catalyst: feasibility studies, early-stage awards and late-stage awards.

BIA and the Biomedical Catalyst: The BIA previously led a campaign to ensure that the Biomedical Catalyst was extended, and publishes reports and infographics that highlight the successes of the Biomedical Catalyst programme. A previous BIA report showcases a number of companies that have received funding and offers advice from award winners, application reviewers and the awarding bodies to companies considering applying for Biomedical Catalyst awards: http://bit.ly/SQlMqq

Background information

BioIndustry Association
Established over 25 years ago at the infancy of biotechnology, the BioIndustry Association (BIA) is the trade association for innovative enterprises involved in UK bioscience. Members include emerging and more established bioscience companies; pharmaceutical companies; academic, research and philanthropic organisations; and service providers to the bioscience sector. The BIA represents the interests of its members to a broad section of stakeholders, from government and regulators to patient groups and the media. Our goal is to secure the UK’s position as a global hub and as the best location for innovative research and commercialisation, enabling our world-leading research base to deliver healthcare solutions that can truly make a difference to people’s lives. For further information, please go towww.bioindustry.org and twitter.com/BIA_UK

Innovate UK, (formerly The Technology Strategy Board) is the UK’s innovation agency. Its goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Innovate UK brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy.

The Medical Research Council has been at the forefront of scientific discovery to improve human health. Founded in 1913 to tackle tuberculosis, the MRC now invests taxpayers’ money in some of the best medical research in the world across every area of health. Thirty-one MRC-funded researchers have won Nobel prizes in a wide range of disciplines, and MRC scientists have been behind such diverse discoveries as vitamins, the structure of DNA and the link between smoking and cancer, as well as achievements such as pioneering the use of randomised controlled trials, the invention of MRI scanning, and the development of a group of antibodies used in the making of some of the most successful drugs ever developed. Today, MRC-funded scientists tackle some of the greatest health problems facing humanity in the 21st century, from the rising tide of chronic diseases associated with ageing to the threats posed by rapidly mutating micro-organisms. www.mrc.ac.uk      

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