£48m Government funding boost for disease research

In collaboration with the Press Association

Science Minister David Willetts has announced £48 million of new investment to help fund research projects aimed at tackling health problems - including cancer. 

"Funding research in this way not only helps bring treatments to patients sooner, it also boosts the wider economy" - Daniel Bridge, Cancer Research UK

The money comes from the Biomedical Catalyst scheme, which accepts applications from both UK academics as well as small and medium-sized businesses.

Over 70 applications received funding, including business-led projects looking at ultrasound technology to help better target cancer drugs to tumours, and a blood test to identify Alzheimer's. 

A number of academic-led projects also received funds, including a type of artificial blood which could be used for transfusions in disaster zones and a smartphone app to help diagnose delirium – an acute state of confusion.

Mr Willetts said were "testament to the depth and quality of our British research base."

Cancer Research UK welcomed the announcement.

Daniel Bridge, the charity’s policy manager, said: “Funding research in this way not only helps bring treatments to patients sooner, it also boosts the wider economy and helps build the UK’s research infrastructure which, in turn, makes the UK an attractive place to do research.”  

The latest round of funding was announced in a speech at Bournemouth University at the start of the annual universities week.

According to Professor Sir John Savill, chief executive of the Medical Research Council, the Biomedical Catalyst scheme has so far awarded over £170 million to UK scientists and businesses.

"This has been matched by an additional £97 million of private investment, with more likely to come as prospects are developed," he added. 

The Biomedical Catalyst scheme is run jointly by the Medical Research Council and the Government's innovation agency the Technology Strategy Board.