Health tech innovators are among those being backed by a new £113m UK government funding scheme aimed at finding the next generation of science leaders.
The funding is part of the government’s aim of increasing public R&D spending by £22bn by 2024/25.
Anti-epilepsy tech and new types of therapy to treat chronic conditions such as Crohn’s disease are included in the list of 97 projects that will share the £113m public cash injection.
The funding comes via the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Future Leaders Fellowships scheme – which aims to establish the careers of the next generation of world class British scientists.
The investment will enable researchers at universities and businesses to progress their studies quickly by funding essential equipment and paying for researcher wages.
Among the industry, health and environment-focused projects backed is a project, led by Dr Yujiang Wang at Newcastle University which aims to use long-term brain recordings, combined with wearable environmental sensors, to capture and analyse fluctuations in epileptic seizures.
Its aim is to gain a better understanding of how seizure activity and severity varies case by case and will enable Wang’s team to forecast the severity of upcoming seizures for individual patients, as well as developing future treatments that may reduce their severity.
Another beneficiary is Dr Obinna Ubah, of Elasmogen Ltd, who will lead a project to deliver a new type of therapy that overcomes the limitations of traditional antibody therapies currently used to treat autoimmune diseases, like arthritis and Crohn’s disease.
Unlike antibody therapies, the new drugs developed by Dr Ubah will be capable of being used to treat more than one kind of disease, will not require an injection, and will not themselves trigger an adverse immune response.
This means they will be able to be used for a much longer period than antibody therapies to treat serious autoimmune diseases.
Science minister Amanda Solloway said: “We are putting science and innovation at the heart of our efforts to build back better from the pandemic, empowering our scientific leaders of tomorrow to drive forward game-changing research that could improve all our lives and boost the UK economy.
“Supported by £113m, the Future Leaders Fellowships will equip our most inventive scientists and researchers across the country with the tools to develop and bring their innovations to market quickly – all while helping to secure the UK’s status as a global science superpower.”
The government has committed over £900m to its Future Leader Fellowship initiative over 3 years.
Today’s funding forms part of the government’s commitment to increase public spending in research and development (R&D) by £22bn by 2024 to 2025.
Responding to the news, Tom Winstanley, CTO at NTT DATA UK, said: “Following the publication of the Innovation Strategy in July, this latest funding commitment is a welcome sign that the government recognises not only the importance of innovation, but also the need for innovative technologies to be brought to market.
“The investment of £113 million into transformational technologies will accelerate their development and implementation, leading to vast improvements across a number of industries, ranging from farming to healthcare.
“Innovation is critical to the UK’s recovery from the pandemic, and ongoing support for technological developments will be a key driver of the UK economy in the future. As such, it is essential the government continues to maintain its commitment to bolster research and development into new technologies, as this will help sign-post the UK as a place where innovation is thriving.
“Doing so will ensure the UK attracts the best talent to maintain its status as a global leader in technology and innovation, as well as drive greater productivity and create more jobs for the economy.”
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