A new Imperial College London-led initiative which aims to co-ordinate the translation of research from eight Higher Education Institutions into viable medical technologies is set to receive nearly £5 million from Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund (CCF).
The MedTech SuperConnector is an open experiment in medtech acceleration, combining research from eight academic institutions, their technology transfer offices, three science business incubators, industry expertise, NHS patients, and other enabling partners. The SuperConnector will take multiple cohorts of early career researchers (ECRs) and guide them through different approaches for translating research into clinical practice, with outputs and lessons learnt to be shared by each institution’s technology transfer office to create an evidence base for best practice in knowledge exchange.
Among its aims, the SuperConnector hopes to spur growth in the UK medtech sector—including the formation of a sector hub—develop a model for research commercialisation in clinical applications, and encourage more ECRs to take academic discoveries into practice.
The seven partner institutions are Buckinghamshire New University, The Francis Crick Institute, the Institute of Cancer Research, Queen Mary University of London, Royal College of Art, the Royal College of Music, and the Royal Veterinary College.
Imperial Innovations, as Imperial’s technology transfer office, has supported the bid process for the SuperConnector and will be supporting the development of projects with its expertise in science commercialisation and professional networks. In addition, the business incubators of three partner institutions will provide practical support to the early-stage companies that will be formed with the SuperConnector: the Imperial White City Incubator, the Queen Mary BioEnterprises Innovation Centre, and the Royal Veterinary College’s London Bioscience Innovation Centre.
The funding for the SuperConnector comes as part of a new initiative by Research England to encourage collaboration between higher education institutions, as well as to drive forward world-class university commercialisation across the country. In this first tranche of investment, the CCF will fund 14 projects across England. A full list of the supported projects can be found in the Research England website.
Surbhi Gupta, Senior Healthcare Licensing Executive at Imperial Innovations said:
“The MedTech SuperConnector is an ambitious project that could take the UK’s expertise in healthcare research and engineering, and turn it into new clinical treatments for patients, while also developing a knowledgebase for commercialising research. By creating and strengthening a network around SuperConnector, we hope to establish a sustainable community of universities, innovators, and industry for the medtech sector. We have supported the College’s bid for CCF funding and we look forward to working with early career researchers in developing new solutions for clinical challenges and achieving clinical impact.”
About the Connecting Capability Fund
CCF funding of £100 million was allocated from 2017-18 for four years from the science and research budget to the then Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). From 1 April 2018, CCF has become the responsibility of Research England in UK Research and Innovation. In 2017-18 HEFCE allocated £15 million from the Connecting Capability Fund through a formula linked with main HEIF allocations. Following this a further £85 million is supporting competitive projects, managed by Research England. The total allocated for CCF projects includes an additional £1.4 million from the Research England HEIF programme which has enabled 18 CCF projects in total to be supported.