Roslin Cellab gets ‘biomedical catapult’ funding

A SCOTTISH life sciences firm is sharing in £26 million of funding unveiled yesterday by science minister David Willetts from Prime Minister David Cameron’s “biomedical catapult” programme to accelerate research.

Edinburgh-based Roslin Cellab, which makes stem cells that can be used in drug development, will receive £117,432 towards a £156,576 project to investigate the functions of different cells within the liver. The research could help to develop tissues for liver transplants.

Roslin Cellab was the only Scottish business among 35 projects to receive funding under the third round of the catapult scheme, having also benefited from £125,738 for a separate project in the first round.

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But Scott Johnstone, chief executive of the Scottish Lifesciences Association (SLA) trade body, said: “This round was very competitive as it was thought to be the last round – that’s not now the case.

“I know companies down south have been unsuccessful with good projects so I don’t think this is a Scottish problem.

“It may also be an indication that companies are engaged in lower-risk activities such as trials and, therefore, nearer to market in Scotland.”

Johnstone added that the SLA is continuing to encourage companies to apply to the UK government’s Technology Strategy Board for catapult funding. Steve Bates, chief executive at the BioIndustry Association, said: “The catalyst is enabling biotech entrepreneurs to showcase their innovation to the world. Having the scheme as an investor de-risks your idea for other investors.”

Scottish businesses have been more successful in previous funding rounds, with BluTest Laboratories, Cyclacel, Integrated Magnetic Systems and UB Pharma receiving funding.