Further funding to enable The Bloomsbury SET to extend its activities to combat infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance

16 Sep 2021

With emerging disease at the forefront of global health priorities as never before, The Bloomsbury SET is developing new solutions to combat infectious disease and antimicrobial resistance.

Responses to the recent pandemic have shone a light on the importance of international collaboration between academia, industry, stakeholders, and several philanthropic and governmental agencies to support the development and delivery of vaccines. The success of vaccines and emergency approval depended not only on technical expertise but also having the right connections, a common goal and appropriate investment. One of the lessons learned is that without this foundation in place, the world could be in a very different place.

Research England is supporting research and knowledge exchange at higher education institutions in England, by providing funding to a wide range of initiatives including the Connecting Capability Fund (CCF) programme. CCF aims to share good practice and capacity across the higher education sector, forging industrial and regional partnerships. From 2018 to 2021, £86.4 million were invested in 18 projects that stimulated growth and innovation across the country. In July 2021, Research England announced an additional £25 million awarded to 11 of these projects. The Bloomsbury SET, a knowledge exchange project led by The Royal Veterinary College (RVC), received follow-on funding of £1.9 million over one year. This adds to the previous £4.96 million award received in 2018.

Building on recent work, the new programme, entitled ‘The Bloomsbury SET: A London-Liverpool alliance to accelerate solutions to infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance’, retains three of the four original collaborating institutions. Joining the RVC, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), and SOAS University of London, is a new partner, the Infection Innovation Consortium (iiCON), led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. iiCON brings together public and private partners in a £170 million programme born out of the Liverpool City Region and builds on the north west of England’s UK-leading capability in infectious diseases R&D. The programme also works closely with the London International Development Centre (LIDC), a consortium of seven Colleges of the University of London shaping the future of international development.

Supporting academics across the consortium who are at an early stage in their commercialisation journey, and their industry partners, the programme aims to develop a pipeline of skilled innovators and support the most competitive ideas to progress to higher Technology Readiness Levels. Throughout the 12-month period, the programme of activities will consolidate partnerships, capacity and product development, including:

  • A programme with bespoke workshops, peer-to-peer learning, and business mentoring to support product development.
  • A skills programme for academics and other university staff to develop their understanding of the steps required to commercialise research and work with strategic partners.
  • A series of events and activities to support connections between academics and appropriate commercial partners.
  • Development of products including vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics that will benefit both animals and humans.

As part of this process, The Bloomsbury SET will provide small grants to nurture new collaborations and knowledge ecosystems, support the best technologies to move closer to market, and thus help safeguard global health.