Press release

£10 million competition for business to map rare cancer genes

A £10 million competition to help businesses develop cutting edge technology to map and analyse genes has today been launched.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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Winning companies will be funded to develop high-tech products to help identify and treat inherited diseases and cancer. Ideas could include new computer code or hardware, or improvements of existing software and devices. The competition will run alongside plans to map the DNA code of up to 100,000 NHS patients with cancer and rare diseases by 2017. The products developed as part of the competition will play a part in reaching this target. Public Health England are also leading work to use whole genome sequencing to tackle infectious diseases.

Heath Minister Lord Howe said:

Our plans to map 100,000 genomes over the next five years will lead to truly ground-breaking discoveries about how diseases work and how we can treat them more effectively.

This competition helps harness the creativity and ingenuity of businesses to help us reach our target.

Our vital investment in pioneering scientific research is good news for patients, for the research sector and for the economy - creating jobs and growth in our world-beating life sciences industry and helping the UK compete in the global race.

The competition is part of the Government’s commitment to making the UK the best place to start and grow a business. Earlier in November, the Government launched a public campaign to celebrate British success stories. The Government wants to inspire other businesses, particularly small and medium sized enterprises, and point them towards the support that can help them grow. It will also reaffirm its commitment to small business with a statement in December for how the whole of Government will back them. This will set out a range of measures to continue helping budding entrepreneurs and existing businesses succeed.

Application forms and further details about this competition can be found here. The deadline for entries is noon on 5 February 2014. Winning proposals will be announced in March 2014.

Background information

  • For further information, please contact the Department of Health press office on 020 7210 5221.
  • The competition opens on 2 December 2013. The deadline for registration is noon on 26 January 2014 and the deadline for applications is noon on 5 February 2014.
  • The Department of Health (DH) is funding the competition through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI). It will be managed by Genomics England, a company wholly owned by DH.
  • The Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) is a cross-government initiative co-ordinated by the Technology Strategy Board. The aim of SBRI is to use the power of government procurement to drive technology development, especially in early-stage companies, supporting projects through the stages of prototyping and demonstration, which are typically hard to fund. SBRI offers an excellent opportunity for businesses to develop and demonstrate technology, supported by a customer, and to reach the first rung on the government procurement ladder. For more information click here
  • 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), the Technology Strategy Board 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.
  • Genomics England Limited is a company limited by shares in respect of which the UK Secretary of State for Health is the sole shareholder. The Company has been set up to pursue the Prime Minister’s 100k Genome Project, the objectives of which are:
    • To deliver the primary initial objective of up to 100,000 whole genome sequences (“WGS”) and associated data to support patient care and research;
    • To create opportunities for industry, particularly UK based start-ups and SMEs, to develop genome-based knowledge, therapies and tools to drive economic growth;
    • To adopt access models to ensure that the company covers its costs but that any real benefits return to patients and the public in the UK;
    • To earn and retain the political, ethical and moral trust of the UK National Health Service, its patients, the media and politicians.
Published 2 December 2013
Last updated 2 December 2013 + show all updates
  1. Audioboo of Lord Howe's statement.
  2. First published.