Endocrine Abstracts (2006) 11 S96

Funding for commercialisation of research after the biotech bubble

RN Seabrook


Wellcome Trust, London, United Kingdom.


It is important that the basic discoveries made by the scientific community are translated into practical innovations that can be utilised directly or indirectly to improve human and animal health. To be effective in translating scientific advances into health products it usually requires engagement with the business and investment community. Bridging the gap between academic research and commercial R & D is difficult because of the risks inherent to early-stage translation. This is a particular problem in the healthcare sector where the technical and regulatory hurdles are a significant challenge on the path to market. In combination, the early-stage scientific and regulatory uncertainty is so significant it has led to a much more cautious approach to investment by both the financial and industrial sectors. Alternative sources of mixed motive, early-stage, funding are emerging via government, certain types of not-for-profit organisations (foundations and charities for example) and also high net worth individuals. There are now examples of healthcare enterprises that have successfully deployed funds from alternative sources to enable the enterprise to reach a pivotal stage in development, such as clinical trial or even product launch, at which the enterprise has become investment attractive to the markets or existing companies. In particular, The Wellcome Trust, through its Translation Award funding seeks to mitigate the risks of early-stage translation and has committed in excess of £50M to these types of project.

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