University of Dundee

Dundee benefits from multi-million pound fund to accelerate translation

20 Jun 2022

The University of Dundee is among the UK research organisations to benefit from a £118 million funding package to accelerate knowledge exchange, translation and commercialisation.

Dundee will receive £1.61 million over the next three years as part of the Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) investment made by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The initiative will support critical early-stage translation of research to transform public services, create new jobs, attract private investment, and forge new partnerships with business and charities.

Dundee has a proven track record of de-risking new drug targets, leading to a growing number of partnerships with industry, licence agreements and new spinouts. The IAA will lead to an increased focus on diseases related to ageing and projects with company formation potential.

The IAA will help University researchers turn exceptional basic research into new drugs for a wide variety of diseases. It will also facilitate growth of the local biomedical cluster, with the resulting commercialisation successes used to further encourage a culture of entrepreneurship.

David Gray, Head of Biology and Professor of Translational Biology at the University’s Drug Discovery Unit, said, “We are delighted that our track record of translating fundamental research from across the UK and beyond into licence agreements, partnership with industry, and new companies has been recognised with this new funding.

“This award will sustain our ability to make tool molecules to explore basic science, help create new companies and employment opportunities and, ultimately, deliver medicines for poorly treated diseases.”

The UKRI is a government body responsible for delivering £8 billion research and innovation funding each year. The £118 million investment in the latest round of IAAs will enable the translation of research across 64 universities and research organisations into investible assets.

This will allow UK teams to unlock the value of their work, including early-stage commercialisation of new technologies and advancing changes to public policy and services such as NHS clinical practice. The programme, now in its 10th year, has in the past provided early-stage support to projects that are now established global businesses.

Tony Soteriou, UKRI Director of Commercialisation, said, “The UK is home to some of the brightest, most innovative and creative research teams in the world. They have the ideas and they have the entrepreneurial energy to create businesses and services that could turn sectors on their head.

“What they need, what every great commercial idea needs, is support in the critical early stages.  The Impact Acceleration Account is the catalyst that allows projects to grow to the next level, attracting investment, forging partnerships and creating jobs.

“The breadth of UKRI allows us to work right across the UK’s world-class research and innovation system to ensure it builds a green future, secures better health, ageing and wellbeing, tackles infections, and builds a secure and resilient world.”

Dundee was earlier this month named as the top University in the UK for Biological Sciences in the Research Excellence Framework. Translating world-leading fundamental research into entrepreneurial activity is a priority of the University, which has also been ranked in the top six in the UK for the success of its spinouts.

Leading the way is Exscientia, a pioneer in AI-driven drug discovery valued at £2.5 billion. The University’s pipeline of spinouts has never been stronger, and another biopharmaceutical company to emerge from Dundee, Amphista, recently announced deals potentially worth more than £2 billion.

The £25 million Growing the Tay Cities Biomedical Cluster will create an Innovation Hub capable of housing new high-growth spinout companies and fits into the wider vision of a Life Sciences Innovation District in the city.

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