The University is part of a consortium which has secured £50,000 to further develop a proposal bid to accelerate medicines development in Kent. This seedcorn funding, which is provided through UK Research and Innovation’s flagship £236m Strength in Places Fund, could bring £60million investment into the life sciences sector in Kent.
The bid is being led by Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network in a consortium that includes the University alongside Discovery Park (Sandwich), LGC Group and Pfizer. If the bid is successful, it will provide funding for an ‘Accelerated Medicines Design and Development’ (AMDD) project to be based in Discovery Park.
AMDD aims to enhance the region’s digital skills base, opening up opportunities to the existing workforce and the wider community through the development of a ‘digital community lab’. It will also develop a Kent and Medway Data Trust (KERNAL), enabling appropriate access to patient data from Kent’s growing and diverse population to support research and innovation and drive greater ‘patient centricity’ into the medicines development process.
In particular, it aims to enable new medicines for children to be developed faster. The advanced digital technologies that would be available through the project will help scientists to overcome some of the challenges and complexities that they regularly face when developing paediatric medicine.
The full bid is due to be submitted to the Government in November 2020 in the hope of securing further funding through UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund.
Professor Chris Farmer of Kent’s Centre for Health Services Studies (CHSS) said: ‘KERNAL will allow us to support academic research across the region and provide valuable linked data for the wider research community. This innovation will support the wider bid and our life sciences and industry partners in developing new treatments.’
Mayer Schreiber, CEO of Discovery Park, said: ‘Alongside our partners in the consortium, Discovery Park is delighted that the potential of the Accelerated Medicines Design and Development project has been recognised. We will be working together to make this exciting project, which will form a pivotal part of our Manufacturing Village vision, a reality, bringing real patient and economic benefit.’