UK bioscience industry gets £250m cash boost from government
Published: 24th May 2012 17:18:20
Researchers will get £250m in funding as part of the government's high-tech growth strategy, Science Minister David Willetts has said.
He said promoting "the technologies of the future" was a "crucial theme" of the government's industrial policy.
Research into feeding a growing world population will benefit from the grant.
Mr Willetts said ministers had a key role to play in working with business, researchers to support innovation and ensure its commercial success.
He announced the additional financial support during a visit to the Babraham Research Campus near Cambridge.
Securing the UK's research base, creating stronger links between academics and business and systematically identifying new technologies were key elements in the government's strategy for high-tech growth, the minister said.
He said: "It is what they do not just in Germany or South Korea but in the USA too. We should not let myths about free market America inhibit us from doing the same here."
"We are backing the risk takers, and are willing to take a risk ourselves."
Decisions on which research institutes receive funding were taken by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), a government-funded body with an annual budget of £445m.
The money, Mr Willetts said, will be used to "meet challenges such as sustainably feeding the growing world population, finding alternatives to dwindling fossil fuels and supporting an ageing society to remain healthy for longer".
Mr Willetts also backed developments in bioscience and said experiments with GM crops, such as those being undertaken at the Rothamsted Research Centre in Hertfordshire, were "essential" for gathering scientific evidence.
Earlier this month, a man was charged with criminal damage following a break-in at the centre where a trial of GM wheat is being held. The project aims to see whether the modified crops can deter aphids - a major wheat pest.
Mr Willetts said: "Whatever our personal views on GM, everyone must surely want to protect the integrity and freedom of British science - and allow these experiments to proceed."
Conservative MP George Freeman, the government's life science adviser who spent 15 years working in bioscience, welcomed the funding. He said it marked "a historic shift in the development of a new industrial policy for science and innovation and paves the way for the UK to lead a new green revolution in crop science".
Dr Mark Downs, Chief Executive of the Society of Biology, said: "The greatest challenges the world faces, including food security, climate change, loss of biodiversity, the ageing population and disease, can all ultimately be addressed through biology-based research. Funding that research is critical to meeting these challenges."
Mr Willetts also announced two separate investments in synthetic biology - £6.5m to encourage business to explore the industrial applications for synthetic biology and a £5m grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to a number of universities to "establish a platform for synthetic biology".
The EPSRC will, for the first time ever, fund four manufacturing fellowships, worth around £1m each and there will be a refreshed report from the Government Office for Science on future technologies to inform the evolving industrial strategy.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. UK bioscience industry gets £250m cash boost from government. [Online] (Updated 24 May 2012)
Available at: http://www.manchesterwired.co.uk/news.php/1430761-UK-bioscience-industry-gets-250m-cash-boost-from-government [Accessed 14th May 2013]
At 00:43:25 in OtherRestrictions on postal voting and identity checks at polling stations may be needed to help crack down on fraud, the elections watchdog has ...
At 19:09:46 in OtherThousands of Manchester United fans have gathered at the club's Old Trafford stadium to mark the club's 20th league title and Sir ...
At 17:40:14 in OtherThe shopkeeper son of a Liverpool MP has been cleared of failing to properly label "legal highs" to warn consumers about potential...
At 15:22:00 in OtherA man who killed a boy in a hit-and-run crash in Greater Manchester has been jailed for six years, four months....
At 13:15:55 in OtherA Jetstream aircraft became the first to fly "unmanned" across UK shared airspace last month....
At 11:41:19 in BusinessLloyds Banking Group has said its chairman, Sir Win Bischoff, is to retire before May 2014....
At 10:47:51 in OtherExtra deliveries of juice and porridge have been sent to primary schools in poor areas of England to help them do better in tests this week....
At 07:48:48 in OtherA memorial to the famous fell-walker, Alfred Wainwright, will be unveiled on the hills above Blackburn, later....
At 07:07:07 in OtherOlivia Colman's double win was the big story of the Bafta TV Awards, but who else was crying tears of joy and who went home empty-hande...
At 03:37:59 in OtherOne of Britain's most wanted fugitives is due in court in Madrid later after being arrested at a luxury villa on Spain's Costa Bla...
News In Other Categories
A teenager is suspected in the shooting of 19 people at a New Orleans Mother's Day parade on Sunday, police say....
It was a melodious spectacle....
Northern Ireland Education Minister John O'Dowd has discussed proposals to change A-levels and GCSEs in England with the Education Secr...
Gardeners need to show that their profession is not for "thick, dull or unadventurous" people, says television gardener Alan Titch...
The British Antarctic Survey scientist Joe Farman, who helped identify the "hole" in the ozone layer over the southern pole, has d...
British troops will start serving longer tours in Afghanistan with a new timetable expected to be announced by Defence Secretary Philip Hamm...