Released: Sunday 12th June 2011
An innovative new funding initiative developed by Scotland’s most comprehensive medical research charity will provide a significant boost for businesses in the key life-sciences sector.
Medical Research Scotland today announced that it has revamped the way in which it makes funding awards to support research by leading young doctors and life scientists.
The charity will be funding prestigious four-year PhD studentships, in addition to continuing to offer up to 20 Vacation Scholarships for undergraduates each year to gain experience in biomedical research.
The new PhD awards will require close collaboration between life sciences and biomedical companies and universities. Up to ten companies each year could benefit from the scheme – a move warmly welcomed by the sector and by the Scottish Government.
Novel elements in Medical Research Scotland's approach to supporting PhD students include:
· Graduate students and young academic supervisors will receive commercially relevant training as well as mentoring an excellent scientific environment.
· The company will take the lead in finding academic partners - it will be market-driven
· Medical Research Scotland will pay student stipend, fees (UK/EU only) and laboratory consumables
· There will be an agreed plan between the company and University to develop Intellectual Property
PhD students will take part in a Commercial Training Programme, organised by Medical Research Scotland and running alongside universities' own Doctoral Training Schemes.
The Charity stressed that the new funding system will see a continued focus on supporting young people and on a rigorous selection of only the best science.
Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism Fergus Ewing said:
"This is an other great example of the life sciences sector working together.
"We already have skilled workforce in this area and I know that programmes like this will continue to develop our talents to make sure that Scotland continues to be the location of choice for life science companies to locate and grow.
"There is huge potential in the life sciences industry and we can capitalise on this by continuing to work together in future."
Professor David Harrison, Chair of Medical Research Scotland, who began his own career with a Medical Research Scotland award, said: “Consortia will submit project proposals which will be reviewed in the early autumn of 2011 by a panel of academic and industrial experts chaired by Professor Walter Nimmo, a successful and still very active academic entrepreneur who founded and led Inveresk Research.
“In due course, successful consortia will advertise for students, who will be chosen by a committee comprising the company, academic partner and Medical Research Scotland.
“ The new approach followed a strategic review of Medical Research Scotland's activities, including a detailed consideration of how our funds are best used to support young people in biomedical research in Scotland. The Trustees have decided to introduce an innovative new funding stream which will replace the traditional Project Grants. The very firm intention is to continue to support the careers of such young people, albeit by a different route.
“These new PhD awards will involve close working between universities and life science companies in Scotland and will also incorporate additional training on how to develop science careers in an increasingly competitive and exciting market.
“We believe this will enhance the support that Medical Research Scotland gives to training and preparation for a career in science and aim to have the first PhD studentships starting in the autumn of 2012.
The new awards project has been warmly received by industry. Scott Johnstone of the Scottish Lifesciences Association, said: “We are delighted to welcome this support from such a prestigious Scottish based charity in an increasingly competitive environment. This is the first time industry can drive the research and have ownership for the resulting commercialisation of the work. As an industry we have been calling for this type of initiative for some time now and it is thanks to the ingenuity of a leading Charity that this has been delivered”