By Daniel Hunter

Ministers will announce substantial new funding awards to boost the UK life sciences industry, as UK and international delegates meet in London for the British Business Embassy Life Sciences summit.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley and Universities and Science Minister David Willetts announced that the first awards totalling £10 million from Government’s £180 million Biomedical Catalyst have been awarded to fourteen UK universities and 18 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). These awards from the Medical Research Council and the Technology Strategy Board will support UK academics and businesses on the first vital step in exploring the market potential of their early-stage scientific ideas.

David Willetts also announced that the Medical Research Council and a consortium of 10 UK Government and charity research funders have invested £19 million to establish four e-health research centres in London, Manchester, Dundee and Swansea. The new centres will enable the UK to make more effective use of electronic health data — a field with huge possibilities for health care delivery and the understanding of disease.

Yesterday, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the Olympic drug-testing laboratories, located in Harlow, will be converted into a £10 million world-class research centre. The MRC-NIHR Phenome Centre, the first of its kind in the world, will use cutting edge facilities developed for London 2012 to help develop better and more targeted treatment for patients, and will enable researchers to explore the characteristics of disease in order to develop new drugs and treatments for patients.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:

"We want to create a world-class NHS that makes the latest and best treatments available to patients.

"Our investment in the new MRC-NIHR Phenome Centre, the first of its kind, promises better targeted treatments for patients with a wide range of common diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and dementia.

"It's part of the record funding made available for biomedical and clinical research through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), to support studies including those funded though the Biomedical Catalyst programme."

Minister for Life Sciences David Willetts said:

"The UK has one of the world's largest and most productive life science sectors. We have cutting edge industries such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and medical technologies. We attract almost 10 per cent of the world's pharmaceutical R&D funding.

"The Global Business Summit on Life Sciences will introduce some of the world's most important and influential sector leaders to see what the UK have to offer.

"It will also highlight how UK innovation continues to flourish and how the industry collaborates, to produce world class services, products and individuals.

“I am delighted to be a part of this event, which positions the UK as a firm leader in the world of life sciences.”

The Life Sciences Day is one of 18 global business summits being organised by UK Trade & Investment to promote UK businesses and facilitate international trade during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

UK-international business

International business to be announced by firms at today’s summit today includes:

· Fast Track Diagnostics Research Ltd (FTD) has announced the opening of an Indian subsidiary and said that it will be expanding its research capacity in the UK by the end of this year. FTD designs and produces a wide range of assessment procedures enabling the simultaneous detection of a wide range of infections. It is anticipated that the company will contribute several hundred thousand pounds to UK export revenue each year.

· Morningside Pharmaceuticals Ltd, a multi-award-winning British company dedicated to providing affordable healthcare to aid agencies, has announced a €177K (£139k) contract with Unicef to deliver the medicine Podophylloxtin Solution, used to treat sexually transmitted diseases, to Malawi. This contract brings Morningside’s sales to Unicef’s Supply Division over the last 12 months to more than £3 million, and further builds on the company’s growth, which has been driven by export sales growth of 223% over the past six years.

· Inanovate, a US-based company with expertise in protein screening to support research, drug development and clinical diagnostics, is to create a new biology post at its UK base in the West Midlands to support a recently-announced sepsis research project. Working as part of a consortium with the University of Manchester and Brighton University, supported by a Technology Strategy Board grant, the project will use Inanovate’s unique screening platform to aid diagnosis of the early onset of sepsis.

300 UK and international healthcare delegates will discuss the ways in which change in healthcare can be achieved through collaboration between industry, academia and healthcare providers. The event will also focus on how translational research can be used to develop novel therapeutics and medical technologies and examine the expanding role of informatics and digital technology in healthcare delivery.

Speakers will include British Business Ambassador and eminent surgeon Lord Darzi; Sir David Nicholson KCB CBE, Chief Executive of the English National Health Service; Dr. Gabrielle Silver, Global Head of Neuroscience and Primary Care Marketing of GE Healthcare; and Sir Mark Walport, Director of The Wellcome Trust.

Also speaking are Dr. Gillian Leng, Deputy Chief Executive of the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence; Professor Peng Tee Khaw from the Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; and Professor Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine,University of Oxford.

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