Medicines Discovery Catapult awarded funding to establish Cheshire & Warrington as an international powerhouse for the creation of new medicines

Medicines Discovery Catapult

Today (11th August 2020), Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC) announce that it has been awarded government seedcorn funding; provided through UK Research and Innovation’s flagship £236m Strength in Places Fund, along with project partner Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The funding will be used to create a regional consortium and develop the full stage bid. The bid will outline detailed plans to transform productivity in complex medicines (such as modified RNA, antisense oligonucleotides, antibody-drug conjugates and nanomedicines) in the Cheshire & Warrington region – from concept to commercialisation – strengthening its position as an international powerhouse for the creation of new classes of medicines.

The core partners, MDC and Cheshire & Warrington LEP aim to harness the region’s potential for accelerated development and commercialisation of new complex medicines, through a focussed programme of R&D innovation, training, knowledge exchange and expert advice.

MDC will lead the creation of the consortium bid, ensuring it addresses the diverse sector needs. MDC already has established working relationships with many life science organisations across the region and provides input into the LEP’s regional life sciences strategy.

This new programme builds upon the recent announcement of capital funding from the UK Government’s Getting Building Fund for the Cheshire & Warrington LEP region, that includes a multi-£M investment with Medicines Discovery Catapult to create a Validation Centre of Excellence at Alderley Park.

The medicines industry is one of the UK’s leading sectors, with exports worth over £22 billion. Building an international powerhouse on Cheshire & Warrington’s strengths in innovative pharmaceutical validation and development will result in positive regional and national economic impact. This will lead to significant increases in productivity, employment, and quality of life in the North-West.

The strengths of high-quality, internationally renowned life science organisations combined with a vibrant start-up culture, positions the region perfectly to take advantage of the lucrative market opportunities complex medicines offer.

Cheshire & Warrington is home to world-class life science innovation facilities such as Alderley Park, AstraZeneca Macclesfield, Thermo Fisher and Waters Mass Spectrometry world centre of excellence. It also has one of the largest concentrations of talent in Europe, drawing on 15 universities (including 40% of the UK’s best STEM universities) within a 30-mile radius.

The Cheshire Science Corridor includes more than 200 national agencies and research organisations, working alongside local and global companies and universities, encompassing the entire supply chain – from discovery through to marketing.

Professor Peter Simpson, Chief Scientific Officer of Medicines Discovery Catapult, says:

“Our programme will align the extensive and diverse local skills in innovative complex medicines, to maximise impact against the considerable global opportunity in this emerging therapeutic landscape. It provides the road-map to realising the potential for Cheshire & Warrington to become a global player; maximising local economic growth and patient benefit.”

Clare Hayward MBE DL, Chair of Cheshire and Warrington LEP, says:

“We have a strong track record of medicine discovery in Cheshire and Warrington and a clear ambition to capitalise on our world-class areas of expertise in life sciences to further support our economic recovery.  Working with MDC and other strategic partners we will develop a compelling bid that, if successful, will deliver on the opportunities highlighted in developing our Local Industrial Strategy and propel our position in the area of complex medicines to one of global significance.”  

Led by UK Research and Innovation, Strength in Places Fund (SIPF) is a competitive funding scheme that takes a place-based approach to research and innovation funding, to support significant local economic growth.

The Cheshire & Warrington SIPF bid will enable:

  1. Acceleration of the development of a Complex Medicines cluster, leading to enhanced business outcome through investment and commercialisation
  2. Support for technology driven start-ups and spinouts by providing the essential technical and business skills required for success
  3. Enhanced cross-sector collaboration opportunities to drive innovation in this high-value sector