The University is to receive £1.2 million from the Medical Research Council (MRC) to help accelerate the translation of innovative medical research into industry and out to patients.
The funding, which forms part of a £23.2 million boost from the MRC to UK universities, was announced by Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson on a visit to the Medical School yesterday. The awards are part of three different funding initiatives, set up by the MRC to specifically target different innovation needs including:
- Discovery award mechanism which will accelerate ‘blue skies’ medical research by providing support much faster than usual funding routes and will focus on building capacity and capability in areas of high national priority.
- The Confidence in Concept (CiC) awards which provide flexible funding to universities to accelerate the transition from discovery science to viability testing and take promising basic research to the industry-academia interaction stage for the development of therapies, diagnostics and medical devices.
- Proximity to Discovery scheme which helps universities to build partnerships with industry by developing new collaborations and ways of exchanging knowledge and skills.
In making the announcement, the Minister said, “Britain is a global science powerhouse and the Government is backing our world-class researchers like those at Birmingham University by protecting the science budget to the end of the decade. This £23m fund will help to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of research into the new medical treatments and technologies that will save thousands of lives.”
The University has been the recipient of four MRC Confidence in Concept awards, dating back to the scheme’s inception and will receive a further £700,000 this year. From these awards the University has leveraged more than £8 million additional funding, around £4 million of which comes from non-governmental sources. The University has also received £200,000 in the new round of MRC Proximity to Discovery funding.
With the new funding, the University will create a Creative Leaders in Industry Fellowship scheme, providing a 6-12 month training programme for industry representatives to undertake short projects with academic leaders, alongside a series of seminars and workshops designed to inspire new ways of working.
The University is also one of 12 institutions nationally to receive an MRC Discovery Award, entitled Placing Discovery Science at the heart of Big Data. MRC funding of £300k will support plans to use patient data to determine the health impact on patients of carrying particular genes. It will do this by linking hospital records with genetic data, to look for a correlation between particular genes and health conditions. Birmingham is well placed to carry out this project as it has strong partnerships with 18 local NHS Trusts, covering 20% of the UK’s patient genome samples, and has strong expertise in genomics. Birmingham aims to integrate this health data into other developing large-scale databases and informatics programmes, ultimately improving patient care.