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Cell therapy research and development to receive £6 million funding injection

Innovate UK website

24 July 2008

  • Nine innovative research and development projects to receive investment
  • Total value of projects in excess of £10 million

The Technology Strategy Board, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Medical Research Council (MRC) and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) are to jointly invest in nine innovative research and development projects in the field of cell therapy. 

The organisations are to invest £6.3 million in the projects, which have a total value of £10 million.

The projects include research and development of:

  • a novel cell therapy designed to stimulate and sustain tissue regeneration;
  • an automated system for rapid, simple production of 3D tissue constructs;
  • “smart scaffolds” for optimised wound healing.

[Further information about some of the projects is provided in the Notes to Editors]

Commenting on the decision to invest in these projects, the Technology Strategy Board’s Chief Executive, Iain Gray, said: “The Technology Strategy Board supports the research, development and exploitation of technology for the benefit of the UK economy and to improve quality of life. The worldwide market for regenerative medicine is estimated to reach $500 billion by 2010. The UK has a significant presence in this field. But for the full potential to be realised will require the successful development and application of bio-processing technologies. We are therefore very enthusiastic about these cell therapy research and development projects and are delighted to invest in them.”

Steve Visscher, Interim Chief Executive, BBSRC said: "We are delighted to be collaborating with the Technology Strategy Board, MRC and EPSRC on this new initiative. By encouraging collaborations between academia and industry on these exciting projects we will ensure that excellent science reaches its full economic potential in important new technologies. This initiative complements our existing strategy of supporting academic-industry partnerships through our research industry clubs. One club, with co-funding from EPSRC, supports bioprocessing and is already investing in excess of £14M over 5 years, and a further Club involving 13 companies in the diet and health area is funding some £10M of industrially-relevant research."

Commenting on the announcement, Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council, said: “The potential of these projects demonstrates the importance of the partnership between business and academia. We are pleased to be able to support this investment which is at the heart of driving forward the translation of research discoveries into improvements in healthcare and patient benefits.”

Dr John Wand, Head of Nanotechnology and Next Generation Healthcare Programmes at EPSRC, added: “The EPSRC welcomes this opportunity to collaborate with the Technology Strategy Board in their cell therapy funding competition. This has provided a platform for further funding into our areas of research by linking researchers with appropriate companies and transferring innovative research ideas more rapidly to application in business.”

The funding of these projects is the latest investment in technology research and development by the Technology Strategy Board and follows their Autumn 2007 call for proposals in a number of innovation and technology areas. Announcements about further investments are likely to be made shortly.


Notes to editors

  1. The Technology Strategy Board’s Autumn 2007 call for R&D proposals covered eight technology areas: Cell Therapy, Material for Energy, High Value Manufacturing, Low Carbon Energy Technologies, Advanced Lighting, Lasers & Displays, Technologies for Health, Gathering Data in Complex Environments and Creative Industries. These funding competitions were phased over 3 months.  Announcements about the projects to be funded in each area are likely be made over the next 2/3 months.
  2. The Technology Strategy Board is a business-led executive non-departmental public body, established by the government. Its role is to promote and support research into, and development and exploitation of, technology and innovation for the benefit of UK business, in order to increase economic growth and improve the quality of life. It is sponsored by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS). For more information please visit
  3. The Technology Strategy Board’s Collaborative Research and Development Programme is investing directly in new and emerging technologies and has been designed to help businesses work with each other or with academic partners to develop technologies that will underpin products and services of the future. Since 2004, the programme has supported about 700 projects across 40 technology areas with a combined business and government investment (including the research councils, regional development authorities and devolved assemblies) of over £1 billion.
  4. Project details currently available are:

    Title: Cellular manufacturing of pluripotent embryonic stem cells in a NovaPod™ system from MedCell
    Summary: To develop a bioprocess for the scalable bulk culture of pluripotent ES cells within a manual fed batch single closed GMP NovaPod™ system. This will provide a marketable package that overcomes the current high costs of ES cell culture and allow exploitation of these cells in regenerative medicine.
    Partners: NovaThera (lead), The University of Manchester.

    Title: RegeniTherix - smart scaffolds for optimised wound healing
    Summary: The proposed RegeniTherix system comprises a novel wound device and a point of care testing (POCT) device that will provide clinicians with information to improve the management of problem wounds and so address an unmet clinical need.
    Partners: Neotherix Ltd (lead), Complement Genomics Ltd, SensaPharm Ltd, NPL Management Ltd.

    Title: Rapid Automated Fabrication of Tissues (RAFT): Corneal Stem Cells
    Summary: The aim is to develop an automated system for rapid, simple production of 3D tissue constructs and demonstrate pre-clinical proof of concept using human corneal limbal stem cells to make corneal constructs.  We aim to show that the cell-seeded construct is biomimetic, controls cell differentiation rates and supports corneal regeneration.
    Partners: The Automation Partnership (Cambridge) Limited (lead), University College London.

    Title: Cell Bandage for Repair of Avascular Meniscus (CeBRAM)
    Summary: Cell Bandage is a unique technology comprising a biomembrane that controls the movement of stem cells between 2 tissue surfaces.  Funding will allow us to scale up production into a robust manufacturing process, to test the safety of the manufactured product and to take the product into clinical trial.
    Partners: Azellon Ltd (lead), University College London, University of Bristol.

    Title: Combining Cell Lineages for Enhanced Joint Tissue Regeneration
    Summary: This project seeks to establish proof of concept in orthopaedic applications for a novel, three-dimensional co-culture technology platform.  The project will conduct lab-based research to develop and optimise the platform for a broad range of orthopaedic applications, and subsequently to establish proof of concept by applying the platform in established in vivo models for the repair of articular cartilage and ligament.
    Partners: OrthoMimetics Ltd (lead), Devro PLC, University of Cambridge.

    Title: Cell Therapy Using Stem Cells and Biomimetic Biodegradeable Nanostructured Materials
    Summary: We will develop a novel cell therapy designed to stimulate and sustain tissue regeneration. We will combine biomimetic nanofibrous fabrics and pre-optimised cell types to make a graft for treating osteochondral defects. If successful, the same approach could be applied to any tissue amenable to regeneration.
    Partners: Bioceramic Therapeutics Ltd (lead), Finsbury Development Ltd, Imperial College London, Plasticell Ltd


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £420M in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.

External contact

Nick Sheppard, Media Relations Manager, Technology Strategy Board

tel: 01793 442772


Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299