UK businesses and researchers in £75m collaboration to create technologies of the future


UK businesses and research institutions will join forces to develop new technologies, from 3D imaging accelerating medicine discovery, to transforming waste into eco-friendly household products.

Announced by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, 9 new partnerships will bring together expertise from some of the UK’s most prominent businesses and research institutions to develop innovations in support of the UK’s key priorities, such as tackling climate change and boosting medical research.

Backed by a £75.2m joint investment from government, business and academia, the business-led collaborations will draw on existing industry and research strengths in regions across the UK, from Teesside to Bristol, to create products and technologies that can drive economic growth and create highly skilled local jobs.

Innovations receiving funding today include the development of synthetic biology to improve the cost effectiveness of drugs to treat diseases such as cancer, sensor technology to help reduce distraction for drivers, and converting waste into clean household products such as shampoo.

To mark the announcement, the Business Secretary this week visited the Francis Crick Institute, which is partnering with British pharmaceutical firm GSK in a joint mission to accelerate medicine discovery. There he learnt how the 2 businesses will collaborate by integrating next generation chemistry with new technologies to speed up the development of medicines to help treat disease.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “As we build back better through innovation, we are putting the funding and structures in place so those at the top of their field – in business, research and academia – can develop world class products and technologies that could change all our lives for the better. The partnerships we are throwing our weight behind today all have innovation at their core.

“When I visited the Francis Crick Institute this week, it was fantastic to see their ongoing work with GSK to speed up the development of new medicines. The coronavirus pandemic has taught us how vital collaboration is between industry and science and I hope partnerships like this will help in our efforts to prepare for and respond to future pandemics.

“By bringing together business and research expertise in regions across the UK, we will help to drive local economic growth and create highly skilled jobs, all while cementing the UK’s status as a science superpower.”

Industry reaction

Andy Topping, Chief Scientific Officer at FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies: “We are delighted with the partnership we have with the University of Edinburgh and it is aligned with our core purpose to advance tomorrow’s medicines. We are a supporter of great science in the United Kingdom. This an exciting project that will allow us to understand, model and ultimately design CHO cells to be more efficient.”

Richard Slater, Chief R&D Officer, Unilever: “To achieve the UK’s net zero goal by 2050 we need a transformation of the global chemical supply chain. This partnership is an important milestone towards this, driving forward important research on new renewable and biodegradable materials for everyday products, such as laundry detergents. We’re delighted to bring together our world-leading scientists alongside those from the University of Liverpool, the University of Oxford, and our other partners, to tackle this issue.”

Sinead Lynch, Chair, Shell UK said: “Shell has a target to become a net zero energy business by 2050, in step with society. I am delighted that Shell is part of this exciting research programme, which will play an important part in delivering efficiencies and improvements that will ultimately support Shell, and many others, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”