Reporter 409, 3 November 1997

University set to join biotechnology boom

Everything from cancers to vaccines and from viruses to ecosystems will be covered by a new consortium of the universities of Leeds, York and Sheffield. They have joined forces to exploit the rich commercial opportunities of first-class medical and biotechnology research in the north.

The White Rose Biotechnology Consortium has recently secured a grant of £250,000 from the Department of Trade and Industry in recognition of its potential.

This high-profile grouping of northern universities repeats another successful collaboration of Leeds, York and Sheffield in the form of the EPSRC-funded White Rose Faraday Partnership, announced this summer. The three universities received funding – potentially worth £1m – to work with printing research body Pira International and look at better use of packaging materials. This group is one of four partnerships selected by the EPSRC to improve industry links with the research base.

The Consortium aims to create a cluster of successful biotechnology companies in the north of England to rival the rapid expansion of those in the south and to exploit opportunities for consultancy services and development contracts with industry.

Full-time biotechnology exploitation managers have been appointed at each university to identify the research with the most commercial potential.

Dr Jonathan Betts is based at the University of Leeds, whilst Dr Raju Sakaria is at York and Dr Nick Gostick at Sheffield.

The grant, awarded through the DTI’s Biotechnology Exploitation Challenge initiative, will finance the development of research projects and the attraction of venture capital investment into the region.

More than 500 researchers spending £40m annually on research – much of it of world-class standing – will be covered by the consortium.

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