Press release

Science Minister gives business boost at innovate

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

A multi-million pound package of support for innovative businesses has been launched by Universities and Science Minister David Willetts.

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  • £47.2 million from second wave of Biomedical Catalyst announced
  • Technology Strategy Board invests £12 million in innovative companies

A multi-million pound package of support for innovative businesses across the UK has been launched by Universities and Science Minister David Willetts at the Innovate UK 2013 event in London.

The Biomedical Catalyst, which is run by the Technology Strategy Board and Medical Research Council (MRC) with a £180 million budget, will fund a further 51 businesses with a value of £47.2 million. The investment will be used by companies to help them bridge the so called ‘valley of death’, by carrying out research and development across the biomedical industries and taking new products to market.

The latest investment means that through rounds one and two of the Catalyst, £96 million has been invested in 115 companies.

The Minister also announced £12 million of support for innovative businesses funded through the Technology Strategy Board including:

  • the launch of a £3.7 million competition for feasibility studies in Photonics for Health. The competition will provide awards of around £100,000 to businesses looking to exploit this area of technology that includes the use of lasers and LEDs for things such as laser eye surgery and cancer diagnosis.
  • results of a £1.25 million competition for nine businesses to develop their feasibility studies for energy efficient computing. The projects will develop new and innovative ways in which computers and electronic devices can consume less energy.
  • results of a £1.15 million competition for 10 businesses to develop feasibility studies for energy harvesting. The projects will allow companies to explore ways in which the life of batteries can be extended or remove the need for batteries altogether.
  • results of a £6.2 million competition for the so called ‘Internet of things’. Eight business-led projects will develop smart applications across areas such as transport, energy and the built environment. The projects will look at all the technology around us that we use in everyday life that could be connected.

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said:

Investing in new ideas for technology now means that the UK will maintain its position as a global leader for innovation. Through our life sciences strategy and Innovation and Research Strategy we are laying the foundations for future financial benefits in these high growth areas of technology.

The Biomedical Catalyst has proved to be a real success in leveraging additional private finance and it is a model I am keen to see replicated across other technology areas. This will help to keep our world leading technology industries at the front of the global race for research and development.

The announcement of the winners for round two of the Biomedical Catalyst has been made alongside a report published by the BioIndustry Associations (BIA). The report highlights the positive impact that the Catalyst has so far had on the industry in the UK.

Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board Iain Gray said:

Innovation offers the UK the opportunity to keep at the forefront of global developments in technologies that are shaping the world of the 21st century. The Biomedical Catalyst is an excellent example of the many ways in which the Technology Strategy Board can assist business in developing world-leading technologies in areas that have huge potential worldwide.

One of the successes includes Glide Pharma, a pharmaceutical development and device company based in Abingdon, Berkshire. They received an early stage award of £2.3 million through the Catalyst and were able to secure an additional £14 million in private investment. They are working to produce products for the treatment of osteoporosis and are using the fund to help progress their ideas through clinical testing and develop manufacturing processes.

Notes to editors:

1.The Biomedical Catalyst is a competitive awards programme which supports activities in three stages: Feasibility Studies - to gather evidence and make an initial evaluation of the potential for an idea; Early Stage Awards - enabling applicants to evaluate the technical feasibility of an idea and establish proof of concept in a model system; Late Stage Awards - which enable applicants to take a well developed concept and demonstrate its effectiveness in a relevant environment. The award is designed to support applicants seeking to evaluate the clinical utility of their new product, process or service.

2.In the second round of awards, announced today, the levels of funding were:

  • £3.3 million for 25 feasibility studies (total project value £4.5 million)
  • £30.3 million for 18 early stage awards (total project value £42 million)
  • £13.6 million for 8 late stage awards (total project value £16.5 million).

3.The BIA Biomedical Catalyst report is available from the BIA website at www.bioindustry.org.

4.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. For more information please visit www.innovateuk.org.

5.For a full list of winners from round two of the Biomedical Catalyst, please contact either the Technology Strategy Board or Medical Research Council (MRC) press offices.

6.The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set four ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’ (PDF 1.7MB), published at Budget 2011:

  • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

Published 11 March 2013