UK backs bioprocessing with £3m grant

Related tags Biotechnology Uk

The UK government has given the national biotechnology industry
trade group £3 million (€4.3m) in funding to support the
development of bioprocessing, continuing a string of projects aimed
at boosting the UK biotech sector.

The BioIndustry Association will use the funding, payable over the next three years and nine months, to establish a National Bioprocessing Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN).

The UK is already a global leader in biosciences, second only to the US, with 18 profitable bioscience companies and over 40 marketed products. The industry generates revenues of over £3bn a year, and British biotechnology companies account for 43 per cent of all biotechnology drugs in advanced clinical trials in Europe.

However, the country's industry still lags a long way behind the US, and strong measures are needed to maintain the country's European lead and to close the gap with America. And with the big fish falling into foreign hands - what with Amersham's recent merger with General Electric, PowderJect's takeover by Chiron and Celltech's integration with UCB - the UK industry is now comprised largely of minnows such as Acambis, Antisoma, Vernalis and Xenova.

The funding follows the publication of last year's Bioscience 2015​ report, which highlighted bioprocessing as a key strategic sub-sector that should be developed. One of the objectives, along with the creation of a national agency for governing clinical trials, was the creation of a network of bioprocessing centres across the UK able to meet the growing global demand for manufacturing biological drugs. And progress in this area has already been made with the creation of the National Biomanufacturing Centre in Liverpool, due to start operations in early 2006.

"This is the first step in developing the UK's bioprocessing capabilities, and a real boost for UK bioscience,"​ said BIA Chief Executive Aisling Burnand. The KTN will span the biopharmaceutical bioprocessing sector, including regenerative medicines, proteins and vaccines.

The KTN - to be called bioProcess UK, will be headed up by Dr Tony Bradshaw, recently made bioprocessing industry development director at the BIA thanks to funding awarded by the UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). And Last November also saw the BIA, under DTI funding, bring together the UK bioscience community at the inaugural annual bioProcessUK Forum.

"Bioprocessing technology is crucial for the manufacturing of a broad range of biopharmaceutical products, which are vitally important to the future success of modern medicine and our ability to deliver real benefits to patients,"​ said Burnand.

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