News Column

Catapult Centres Must Remain Focused and Appropriately Funded to Support Biotech Innovation

May 30, 2014



LONDON, May 30 -- The BioIndustry Association issued the following news release:

In its submission today to Hermann Hauser's independent review of the medium term strategy for Catapult centres, the BioIndustry Association (BIA) recommends that government maintains the effectiveness of the Catapult centre model by ensuring that the centres are appropriately funded and remain focused on strategically important areas where there is an identifiable need.

The aim of the Hauser review is to examine how the government's network of Catapults - elite technology and innovation centres - can be fully exploited to benefit the UK economy in the long term. To form its response the BIA has consulted with its membership as numerous BIA members are users of existing centres - primarily the Cell Therapy Catapult and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, which is hosted by the Centre for Process Innovation. The BIA response asserts that the Catapults are a force for good and have made great progress towards helping businesses to adopt, develop and exploit innovative products and technologies.

The BIA notes that Catapult centres bring real value to key areas by combining a business-led approach with skills, experience, resources, and flexible approaches to collaborative working with the sector. The Cell Therapy Catapult is an example of a centre that has already demonstrated an ability to work rapidly and flexibly with both large and small companies to address challenges in regenerative medicine, one of the 'eight great technologies'. The GBP55 million investment announced in the government's most recent Budget for the establishment of a large scale Cell Therapy Manufacturing Centre, which will be run by the Cell Therapy Catapult, is a welcome example of how additional funding should be used to build on Catapults' strengths.

Steve Bates, Chief Executive Officer of the BIA, said:

"The BIA is firmly in support of the Catapult centre model developed by this and the previous government. These centres are already facilitating collaboration, strengthening networks, helping to train and retain a highly skilled workforce, and have significant potential to maintain the UK's position as a leader in important areas such as regenerative medicine and high value manufacturing. Catapults exist to support UK businesses and it is their business-led approach that will boost the effective translation of emerging technologies in a way that supports the UK economy.

"The BIA urges that the current Catapults and the planned Precision Medicine Catapult are given sufficient time and funding to properly embed their staff and resources, establish their networks, engage with the communities they serve, and assess from there how best they can continue to benefit UK companies and the economy. Further centres should only be established if there is known to be a real need and certainly not at the risk of diluting funding for existing centres.

"We look forward to continuing to work with the Catapult centres and the BIA membership to ensure that the centres are supporting the biotech community to their fullest."

Quick facts

* A Catapult is a technology and innovation centre where the very best of the UK's businesses, scientists and engineers can work side by side on research and development, transforming ideas into new products and services to generate economic growth. Catapults complement existing research and development programmes established by the Technology Strategy Board.

* There are currently seven Catapult centres and plans for a Precision Medicine Catapult centre.

* The review of their medium term strategy is led by technology entrepreneur Hermann Hauser and was commissioned by Business Secretary Dr Vince Cable and Science and Universities Minister David Willetts.

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