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Birmingham's life sciences ambitions receive £1.4m boost

The University of Birmingham in particular will receive £1.4 million of new funding, which comes as the city targets the sector for major growth

Jo Johnson MP, minister of state for universities and sciences, at the University of Birmingham Medical School

Birmingham’s hopes of developing a world-class life sciences cluster has been boosted by a £23.2 million funding breakthrough.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) has announced £23.2 million in new funding to take ground-breaking ideas from UK universities into industry and out to patients.

The University of Birmingham in particular will receive £1.4 million of new funding, which comes as the city targets the sector for major growth.

The city is home to more than 500 medical technology companies, more than any other UK region, but wants to create a world-class cluster around the university and Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

The announcement was made today by Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson as he visited the university’s medical school and the Institute of Biomedical Research laboratory.

He said: “Our global scientific impact far exceeds our size as a nation, and our world class researchers like those at Birmingham University help drive the engines of innovation keeping the UK at the forefront of new discovery. That is why we are protecting the science budget in real terms throughout this Parliament. This £23 million fund provides invaluable support to help develop new ideas into the drugs and methods that will help save and improve lives.”

The University of Birmingham has already benefited from £8.18 million of MRC funding, and Greater Birmingham universities will receive a further £2.5 million in this latest nationwide fund, supporting the region’s rapidly growing life sciences sector.

A total of 50 awards were announced across three different funding initiatives, set up by the MRC to specifically target different innovation needs.

The funding comes from Government investment in science, after it announced protection for the science budget up to 2020 in the Autumn Spending Review.

Professor Sir John Savill, chief executive of the MRC, said “The MRC funding awards announced today help to identify and encourage exciting science and bring different cultures together to form strong collaborations.

“The early outcomes show that through devolved decision-making, researchers all over the UK have exploited the flexibility and collaborative potential of these innovative schemes for health benefits.”

The University of Birmingham unveiled a life science hub in 2013, and was deluged with global interest.

Elsewhere, work has been taking place on a four hectare life science campus on a site which is currently contaminated and derelict next to the university and Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

This project would provide a science park specifically for life science businesses, capable of supporting over 400,000 sq ft of office space, including laboratories.

The region already boasts the largest clinical trials base in Europe outside Oxford.

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