Published: 22 Jul 2021 | Last Updated: 22 Jul 2021 14:11:19

The RVC and its partners in The Bloomsbury SET programme will bring together academic and commercial sectors to respond to One Health challenges

The Bloomsbury SET – a knowledge exchange programme led by The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) – has been awarded further funding from Research England, totalling £1.9 million. Beginning in July 2021, the year-long project will help commercialise research into infectious disease and antimicrobial resistance.

Building on the current work of The Bloomsbury SET, this 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. 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.

iiCON brings together public and private partners in a £170 million programme born out of the Liverpool City Region. The consortium builds on the North West’s UK-leading capability in infectious diseases R&D. It has been established to fast-track the discovery and development of new antimicrobial products and treatments to reduce the global burden of disease caused by infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

With infectious diseases and AMR now a high priority for global public health, there is an urgent need for both academic and commercial sectors to work together more effectively to prepare and respond to existing and emerging challenges.

In response to these critical threats, The Bloomsbury SET’s new Impact Connector programme will work with businesses to deliver products including vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics that will benefit both animals and humans. Aiming to transform the support for commercialisation of research across the partner institutions, it will build a collaborative culture across geographically-dispersed sites, creating the potential for strong synergies to arise from linking the key investments by Research England.

Impact Connector will target colleagues across the consortium who are at an early stage in their commercialisation journey, aiming 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 accelerate partnerships, skills training 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 concepts required to commercialise academic research and work with strategic partners.
  • A series of events and activities to support connections between academics and appropriate commercial partners.

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.

Professor Richard Bomphrey, Interim Vice-Principal for Research at the RVC, said:

"There has never been a better time to bring together an outstanding interdisciplinary and inter-sectorial consortium to take on the globally important and pressing issues of infectious disease and antimicrobial resistance. The Bloomsbury SET Impact Connector programme will support innovators as they take promising therapeutics from the laboratory to communities worldwide."

Professor Janet Hemingway CBE, Director of iiCON, said:

“Joint innovation and collaboration is critical if we’re to revitalise and innovate the anti-infectives pipeline and combat the growing global threat of AMR. iiCON is delighted to be joining the Bloomsbury SET’s Liverpool London Alliance and we look forward to working in partnership to support industry and expedite the discovery and development of innovative new treatments and products to reduce the global burden of infectious diseases.”

Dr Hannah Whiteman, Head of Strategic Research at LSHTM, said:

“The Bloomsbury SET Impact Connector programme represents an excellent opportunity to build further links with our regional KE partners at RVC and SOAS, and strengthen our national network through a new partnership with the Infection Innovation Consortium (iiCON). The programme will empower our innovators across career stages with training, funding, and opportunities to forge new external industrial networks and advance their technologies closer to delivering societal and economic impact.”

Dr Ying Chen, Head of Research & Knowledge Exchange at SOAS said:

“SOAS has been a Bloomsbury SET partner since 2018 and we have seen some fruitful interdisciplinary collaborations. This additional year's award will allow us to harvest the connections we have already established and generate more opportunities for collaboration. We look forward to collaborating with the RVC, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), and the Infection Innovation Consortium (iiCON)."

Notes to Editors

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About the RVC

  • The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is the UK's largest and longest established independent veterinary school and is a Member Institution of the University of London. It was the first in the world to hold full accreditation from AVMA, EAEVE, RCVS and AVBC.
  • The RVC is ranked as the top veterinary school in the world in line with the QS World University Rankings by subject, 2021.
  • The RVC offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing and biological sciences.
  • In 2017, the RVC received a Gold award from the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) – the highest rating a university can receive.
  • A research led institution with 79% of its research rated as internationally excellent or world class in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.
  • The RVC provides animal owners and the veterinary profession with access to expert veterinary care and advice through its teaching hospitals and first opinion practices in London and Hertfordshire.

About The Bloomsbury SET

Starting in April 2018, this £5-million translational research programme led by The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and funded by Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund, has focused on the development of new vaccines and diagnostic tools, and addressing innovative approaches for data analysis and public health.

The existing Bloomsbury SET projects portfolio comprises eight Project Grants, three Innovation Fellowships, eight studies using Artificial Intelligence / Big Data, five Commercialization projects and six Social Sciences projects. The programme adopts the One Health Approach, creating opportunities for innovation and integration across different disciplines.

For more information: The Bloomsbury Set

About iiCON

The Infection Innovation Consortium (iiCON) is a public-private consortium established to support the discovery and development of innovative new products and treatments for infectious diseases.

Born out of the Liverpool City Region and backed by UKRI’s Strength in Places Fund, iiCON is led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) and brings together infectious diseases R&D leaders: Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Unilever UK, the University of Liverpool, Infex Therapeutics, Evotec and the AMR Centre at Alderley Park, Cheshire.

iiCON aims to revitalise and innovate the infectious disease product pipeline by supporting industry with access to specialist, commercially sustainable research platforms, state-of-the-art equipment and skilled personnel - significantly de-risking and accelerating new product discovery, development, evaluation and impact assessment, and expediting routes to market.

The consortium’s collaborative effort seeks to reduce the global burden of infectious diseases, addressing the threat posed by a lack of new antibiotics, and the devastating impact of multidrug resistant infections.

For more information: iiCON

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