—The first week of November saw the United Kingdom'sMinister for Universities and Science David Willetts announce some £1 billion(about $1.6 billion in U.S. dollars) worth of new university and businessresearch partnerships aimed at boosting scientific endeavors in the country.
The efforts cover a wide swath of areas, one ofthem life sciences, though it also includes energy efficiency, mobilecommunications and advanced manufacturing—another indication of the growingrole of academia in driving innovation and commercialization, as well as anindication of the growing interconnections between universities, the privatesector and government.
This new round of deals—seven in total—will doublethe number of successful bids from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund, and includes as much as £220 million in public funding. On top ofthat, though, there is more than £600 million worth of private support comingin. Furthermore, a third round of funding bits, with another £80 million ofpublic investment, is also part of the mix.
UK Research Partnership Investment Fund was set up in 2012 and will run for three years until 2015.
As noted by Sir Alan Langlands, chief executive ofthe Higher Education Funding Council for England, which administers the fund, "The demand forfunding from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund demonstrates the powerof universities in promoting economic growth through research and knowledgeexchange. The support from international companies and world-leading charities—allmaking hard-headed investments—is a tribute to the excellence of scientific andresearch staff in our universities."
"It is fantastic that our top businesses andtop charities are queuing up to collaborate with our world-class universities.They want to work together to deliver innovation, commercialization and growth,which will help make sure the UK competes and thrives in the global race,"added Willetts. "The winning projects will tackle the key issues we face—likefighting disease, ensuring energy efficiency and improving infrastructure—forthe benefit of all."
Among the more life-science-geared deals,University College London teamed up with St. Ormond Street Hospital for aninitial £85 million, while the University of Manchester saw a commitment of £38million in a deal with the Christie Hospital. The University of Nottingham, forits part, is getting £34 million initially in a partnership withGlaxoSmithKline to support the Centre in Sustainable Chemistry.