Life science firms to get £180m fund

DAVID Cameron will today unveil a new £180m fund to help firms in the life science sector bring their products to market more quickly, as part of a new strategy designed to boost Britain’s biomedical industry.

The Prime Minister hopes the fund will help bridge the so-called “valley of death” – the period between when a firm conceives a new drug or medical technology and the moment at which the market is ready to invest in it.

The government says that private investors want to see evidence that products will work in humans – rather than laboratory animals – meaning that some of the best innovations never see the light of day.

Cameron is expected to say: “I want the great discoveries of the next decade happening in British labs, the new technologies born in British start-ups.”

Small and medium-sized life science firms will be able to apply to the so-called Biomedical Catalyst Fund, as will some university departments.

Meanwhile, Cameron is expected to announce a new early access scheme for seriously ill patients, which would see them get access to new drugs a year before they are fully licensed. And he will announce plans to share patients’ NHS records with private health companies, in a bid to encourage greater co-operation between the public and private sectors.