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University of Edinburgh racing ahead in Bench to Bedside translation


The University of Edinburgh has set an impressive pace in therapeutics commercialisation in recent months with a record number of spinout companies and an enviable roster of industrial collaborations.

The strong pipeline of successes comes as Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialisation service, launches its Bench to Bedside campaign to further boost industry engagement and inspire more research staff and students to commercialise their work.

The total income generated for the University by the College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine’s translational and industrial funding awards more than doubled in 2019-20 to £35 million and has already set a new record in the first seven months of the current year.

Bench to Bedside is the first instalment of EI’s Discovery Series spanning 2021, which aims to widen commercialisation opportunities.

Professor Stuart Forbes, Dean of Research at the College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine, said: “ The University of Edinburgh is a world-leading research intensive university. We have a strong track record of engaging with industry and find solutions to unmet clinical needs.

“This new campaign will highlight that, from bench to bedside, the University of Edinburgh has the expertise, track record and facilities to help our partners deliver impact.”

Dr Andrea Taylor, Head of Business Development for CMVM cites the recent receipt of a £2.4 million Wellcome Trust Institutional Translational Partnership Award (iTPA) as typifying the direction of travel to increase the breadth of translational activity particularly among early career researchers.

The team’s previous, smaller, iTPA scheme ran for three years and brought an increase of 60% in early career researchers engaging with commercialisation, with a disproportionate rise among women.

Dr Taylor said: “ The iTPA alone has had a major impact on the culture across biomedical sciences, with a new pipeline of 80 projects currently live. We have created a ‘translational hub’ which has built an engaged translational community of 300 members; we want to reach 1,000 in the next three years.

“There is no better way for researchers to have impact in the real world than to work with business. It’s an exciting time to join our growing community of collaborators and make ideas work for a better world.”

Over the past 18 months, Edinburgh Innovations has supported CMVM to launch four therapeutic drug discovery companies that have raised substantial investment.

Recent successes include Resolution Therapeutics, launched with an investment of £26.6 million from Syncona, to develop macrophage cell therapies to repair organ damage – including end-stage chronic liver disease.

Pheno Therapeutics, meanwhile, which was launched jointly with founding investor Advent Life Sciences in 2020, is developing remyelination therapies for multiple sclerosis.