Today, the government announced the winners of the third round of Biomedical Catalyst (BMC) funding. A total of £25.9 million has been invested in 29 companies and five universities to take forward a range of innovative projects. You can see the BIA’s response to this positive news here.
The BMC continues to make a hugely positive impact on the sector – accelerating medical research and leveraging significant sums of private capital – and it is fantastic that the fourth round is already open for applications. The commitment of further funds to support the scheme announced by government in the June Spending Review followed a successful BIA led campaign with the sector.
To capture some of this new data the BIA has updated its BMC infographic which displays some of the key metrics to be aware of. To help explain some of the data contained in it we have separated out some of the pictures.
Significant private capital leveraged
These two flasks show the amount invested thus far and information on the private capital that has been leveraged alongside. You can see the split between the funding for business-led projects (in blue) and academic-led projects (in red). The most recent round supported business-led awards with £16 million of grant funding bringing the total to just over £80 million in all three rounds. A number of these are collaborative projects involving two or more parties.
The next flask in purple shows the private capital that has been leveraged to support the specific projects. This shows that almost £70 million of private funding has been leveraged by the scheme to date. This relates to business-led projects only and of course there has been more money raised by commercial collaborators in academic-led projects which would raise the figure further still.
Additionally, this figure relates to the private capital specific to the projects (calculated by subtracting the grant from the total project costs) and it perhaps undervalues the true amount of private capital leveraged in total. Numerous companies have closed successful financing rounds off the back of a BMC award not just related to the project but where clearly the BMC has provided a stamp of approval to the technology.
In total, the BMC thus far is supporting business-led projects worth almost £150 million.
A range of therapeutic areas supported
The business-led awards supported so far are in a wide range of therapeutic areas demonstrating the depth and quality of innovative R&D currently ongoing in the UK. Looking at the image one can clearly see that oncology and infection have the highest number of projects backed. But looking at the stage of development of the projects – the award types – is also interesting. Two thirds of those projects categorised as ‘skin’ or ‘oral and gastrointestinal’ for example are in later stage clinical development.
The third round has seen projects for new therapies for genetic disorders, advanced cell and regenerative medicine therapies, vaccines and anti-bacterial drug development to medical devices and aids for early diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, dementia and new imaging technologies.
Projects underway across the UK
The BMC is supporting projects all across the UK as this map shows. The ‘golden triangle’ of Cambridge, Oxford and London have over 60 business-led projects moving forward. But there are also significant funds and associated private capital flowing in to other parts of the UK from the south west to Scotland with late stage projects moving ahead in Wales and the north of England.
25% of business-led projects have included at least one collaborator and if we included these in the map also the geographic spread would likely be enhanced further.
R&D along the pathway
You can see from the information in these images that the BMC is supporting projects along the research and development pipeline just as it was intended to do. While the largest number of projects supported numerically are in the feasibility category (where funding of about £150,000 is obtainable) you can see that the largest amount invested into business-led projects is in the early stage category (almost £50m). A good proportion of the funds have also been invested into late stage projects with a number of clinical proof of concept trials getting underway.
Finally, one of the key aims of the Biomedical Catalyst when it was launched was the support of medical research throughout the development pathway, or a ‘funding ladder’ from feasibility through to late stage. A number of feasibility projects supported in the first two rounds are now coming to fruition in the next few months and many of them are already showing success. A number of these may progress further and it demonstrates the speed with which the MRC and TSB have worked together to ensure the BMC has impact.