UK offers R&D cash, streamlined trial system to beleaguered developers

A parsimonious British government has come up with an extra £100 million to invest in the country's R&D infrastructure, earning a cheer from the beleaguered sector. The Babraham Research Campus near Cambridge will get close to half of the total with £26 million earmarked for the Norwich Research Park. And government officials are promising to rip off some of the red tape that faces drug developers, creating a new regulatory agency that will be charged with eliminating unnecessary bureaucratic demands while improving the efficiency of clinical trials.

"The chancellor's additional support for the life sciences provides a strong message around the value of biology and its contribution to health and the economy. The greatest challenges the world faces: food security, climate change, loss of biodiversity, the aging population and disease can all ultimately be addressed through biology based research," Mark Downs, head of the Society of Biology said in a statement.

A key feature in the UK's support of the industry is a proposed National Institute for Health Research, which should help developers rapidly recruit the patients they need. Providers looking to the NIHR for funding will be required to meet certain benchmarks aimed at streamlining the trial process. Several national and local groups are involved in approving clinical trials now, but under the new regime that should all be replaced by a single, one-stop shop.

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