Jul 26

The Snippet: Business-focused Innovate UK, aiming to drive efforts to commercialize research, gains Funding

The government of UK announced an extra £4.7 billion (US$6.1 billion) into research and development (R&D) by 2020–21, which allayed the fears of many UK scientists which had erupted ahead of Brexit. In this announcement, the biggest winner will be an innovation agency, Innovate UK. Previously known as Technology Strategy Board, it is a small government advisory panel of industrialists and civil servants. This body has rebranded itself to become a top funder and has its budget quadruple to around £800 million a year, which it has gained through research grants from various research organizations and businesses. This funding may now also include Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) to help researchers working on key technologies that might benefit the UK economy. The agency funds universities, but is more focused on businesses. Its largest beneficiary includes car-maker Rolls-Royce, which has received almost £300 million since 2007. In terms of universities, only 20% of its cash ends up there. The University of Sheffield is one such place where they do fund, which has strengths in engineering and manufacturing research, has received £150 million, for instance. Another instance of research funding is of a £150 million in the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult in London. It has “galvanized” UK researchers in the field, says Stuart Forbes, who works on regenerative medicine at the University of Edinburgh. He relied on its advice to help get a potential cell therapy for liver cirrhosis into phase II trials.

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