Innovation Grants through the North East LEP, progress on the National Biologics Manufacturing Centre; skills and the MMIP
North East LEP What Europe is doing to boost growth and innovation
At last night’s First for Pharma dinner Michael Whitaker shared the advance copy of “Innovation Visions – The North East Local Innovation Partnership and European Structural and Innovation Fund”. The recommendations are based on the recently completed Smart Specialisation Report; which takes the view that investment for growth must focus where the region already has competitive advantage. The North East regional strengths are Creative and Digital, Passenger Vehicles, Subsea and Life Sciences (including Healthcare).
The North East LEP will foster co-innovation between companies and regional universities, and grants will become available for regional economic growth through SME’s. Grants will be administered via intermediaries such as the AHSN and RTC North. The beneficiaries of the funding must be SME’s and, though funding can go to partners like SME’s or universities which are not in the region, the case must be made for the eventual benefit i.e. more and better jobs or growth, for the North East. All grants must be match funded and some of the matched funding can be in kind.
This European money comes with rules and, if there are breaches of the rules, there is claw-back of grant money. Universities who are involved get their costs covered and then their big benefit is they get to contribute to wealth creation.
The challenge to your company, if you are too big to receive grants, is how can large pharma companies activate the SME’s in their supply chain to access North East LEP money for innovation which benefits the region.
The future is biologic…
The National Biologics Manufacturing Centre NBMC at the CPI in Darlington has received planning permission and building works started on Monday this week. Lucy Foley says that the scheduled completion date is March 2015. They are building GMP proving labs,
This is a national facility – selected for being equidistant to most parts of the UK – but of course, being in the North East, we have a regional advantage. Expect a news release from them later this week.
Solving Skills Issues – Universities – Apprenticeships
High Force Research has just employed a few young graduates and is engaged with training them in the lab because “universities give too little time in the labs so that graduates are promising but…” and need to be trained in basic laboratory practise by companies. It helps a lot that the principals at High Force still spend a lot of time in the labs and there is an expectation that these trained people will stay on. This is greatly helped by the turnaround on projects making the work constantly interesting.
Jo Nunn of Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies has given a big cheer to apprenticeships. Their three new apprentices work at the plant and attend classes at Sunderland University on day release. Sunderland University has constructed the course to suit their requirements – and it was this flexibility and responsiveness which led to the choice of university – not proximity.
After 18 months spent hiring the right people, Durham University launches its new pharmaceutical course at their Stockton site in September.
Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP)
Phil Aldridge of NEPIC, who attended the MMIP briefing in March, says that this government advisory group does want engagement with the manufacturers of medicine; people like members of First for Pharma. Mike Murray of ABPI would be pleased to hear from individuals / members and can be reached at the ABPI. NEPIC will be contacting members to survey them for the top issues that they feel concerns or constrain them. These are issues such as Energy, Regulation, Skills, Cash, Grow on Space and Taxes. Phil will keep First for Pharma members updated once he starts attending working group meetings.