Medical Research Council (MRC) helps academic researchers attract more than £1.1 billion in downstream funding for translational research

By Samantha Black, PhD, The Science Advisory Board editor in chief

September 12, 2019 --

A new report published on September 11 looks at the impacts of the Medical Research Council (MRC) support for translational research over the last decade. The report found that the contributions to translational research has streamlined funding process to benefit academic laboratories and the business community.

The MRC has been actively working to address bottlenecks and challenges in translation (turning fundamental discoveries into improvements in human health and economic benefit) for more than three decades. Following a 2007 spending review of the UK government basic biomedical research, known as the Cooksey review, identifying the need to accelerate biomedical research into patient benefit, the MRC committed to an additional £130 million to grow funding for translational research via directed funding.

The report was commissioned by MRC, which is a part of UK Research and Innovation, to determine if the program met the goals of delivering more innovation into health care and strengthening the return on investment from discovery research. The report analysis was conducted by Ipsos MORI and Technopolis. An independent expert advisory group oversaw and approved the conclusions and recommendations.

The report analyzed outcomes from all the translational research that was completed between 2008 and 2018, in addition to interviewing 250 principle investigators. The report found that all funded projects led to further funding such as clinical development, spin-out companies, and licensing/commercialization. Since 2008 there have been addition £530 million of new translational research funding linked to over £1.1 billion in private sector investment.

Success attributed to MRC-funded projects included:

  • 134 spin-out companies
  • 31 of the spin-outs secured a total of £1.1 billion in investments
  • Over 200 investors were involved across 425 funding rounds (a third from overseas)

In the future, MRC has its focus on advanced biological therapies, artificial intelligence, and early disease detection. The MRC hopes to continue to mature the funding landscape for translational research and promote innovation by providing continuing support and adjusting focus areas as new technologies emerge.

"The MRC has played a leading role in developing a continuum of funding to support UK life scientists take research from the laboratory and through the 'valley of death', so investors and funders can turn their brilliant ideas into health and economic benefits." Said Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak, the MRC's Health Innovation Champion, and Vice Principal and Head of the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences at the University of Glasgow. "The MRC's translational funding has the biggest impact in areas where we have created new markets in difficult or emerging areas of research, such as advanced therapies, like gene and cell therapies."

Copyright © 2019

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