New £70m science fund announced

Science minister Sam Gyimah is set to announce a new £70m fund to help speed up the development of new medicines.

New science minister Sam Gyimah will announce £70m of funding to create new manufacturing centres to help speed up the development of new medicines during a visit to Imperial College London today (22 Jan).

The money forms part of the government’s commitment to build a country fit for the future through a stronger economy and fairer society.

It will create innovative new medical solutions, including using virtual reality to aid rehabilitation and investing in digital speech therapy solutions for stroke and brain injuries.

The government’s investment in high tech medical research will in turn boost jobs, enhance the NHS and ensure better care for people when they are unwell.

During his visit to Imperial College London, the minister is expected to see how new, innovative technology is being developed to help patients.

He will be shown a cartoon-like robot which can improve learning and emotional understanding in children with autism.

Because of their programming, robots are precise in displaying the same facial expressions and gestures in every interaction.

Researchers believe this consistency may be the key to helping young children with autism to learn the different facial expressions and gestures people use to display their emotions.

The minister is also likely to see some AI facial-recognition research which could be used to help elderly people by detecting the onset of depression, or in security systems to recognise visitors to dementia sufferers’ homes as doctors, nurses or relatives.

As part of a day of Industrial Strategy activity, Gyimah will also speak at the Royal Society where he will announce the start of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Research and Innovation Infrastructure Roadmap Programme, which will comprehensively map UK research and innovation infrastructure, showcasing our abilities whilst identifying any gaps in infrastructure that we can address to boost the sector.

Gyimah said: “Through our ambitious, modern Industrial Strategy we want to unlock the innovations that will help people live better, longer lives by developing the medicines of the future. This investment will not only support high-value, highly-skilled jobs but will develop lifesaving treatments that could change lives across the UK.

“We want to improve the way we make medicines and we are determined to capitalise on our research and innovation infrastructure, which is why today I am launching the start of the UKRI Research and Innovation Infrastructure Roadmap Programme.

“From RRS Discovery to the UK Biobank and the Diamond Light Source to the UK Data Archive, this country is world renowned for its research and innovation infrastructure. Now, for the first time, we will map this to enable us to showcase our capabilities around the world and identify future opportunities.”

Chief executive designate of UK Research and Innovation, Sir Mark Walport added: “One of UK Research and Innovation’s key tasks is to make sure that the UK’s businesses and researchers are ready and able to seize the opportunity presented by the Industrial Strategy.

“So I’m very pleased that alongside today’s substantial investment in leading edge healthcare manufacturing technology, we are also starting the process to map out the UK’s nationally and internationally important research and innovation infrastructure.

“This will enable us to make sure we are getting the absolute best out the infrastructure we already have, and identify what else we will need to stay competitive in the next 10-15 years.”