UK biotech body creates new strategic goals for investment in research

By Nick Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/ER Productions Limited
© GettyImages/ER Productions Limited

Related tags: Infectious disease, Biological Sciences Research Council

A UK body that provides £75m (€88m) a year for research into biotechnology and biological sciences has changed its approach to investment.

The UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is a non-departmental public body that invests in eight specialist institutes. Areas of investment include bioscience for health, a focus that covers topics including healthy ageing, combating infectious diseases and the reduction of the use of animals in research. 

Responding to “recent changes in the research and policy landscape​,” the BBSRC has set out how it plans to support and work with the institutes it funds.

Last year, the UK government published a new roadmap for research and development. The BBSRC said its strategy reflects “the need to develop a positive and sustainable funding model that minimizes competition and facilitates collaboration​.” 

The strategy is built around 10 principles, two that apply to the BBSRC and eight that relate to the institutes it funds. Principles for the institutes include playing a key role in the training of researchers and facilitating the translation of fundamental research discoveries. 

The BBSRC has applied the principles to three themes—capability, connectivity and culture—that cover the sets of opportunities and recommendations that it has identified. One recommendation calls for the BBSRC to review its institutional funding model. 

The funding model must deliver efficient research and innovation excellence, foster agility, optimize operational resources and minimize competition between institutes​,” wrote BBSRC in the document.

Elsewhere in the document, the Council recommends a review of its “mechanisms to incentivize the pursuit and realization of university, cross-institutional and commercial strategic partnerships​.”

It is unclear when the organization will perform the reviews recommended in the strategy document. Melanie Welham, the executive chair of the BBSRC, said the research council she leads will now take the recommendations forward but shared no details of the timing of the next steps.

The changes at the BBSRC come at a time when the UK is rethinking its approach to the funding of R&D more broadly, in part because of the impact of its departure from the European Union. The UK government is aiming to increase spending on R&D to 2.4% of gross domestic product by 2027 and has set 3% as the longer-term objective.

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