Green light for life science innovation network

9 November 2016

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A new €11.96m project will see world-leading universities from Wales and Ireland working together with small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) to develop innovative medical products that could revolutionise how we treat disease.

The unique network, which includes Cardiff University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and its School of Biosciences, will focus on emerging fields such as precision medicine – a method of diagnosing and treating patients in a way which is specific to them.

Named the Celtic Advanced Life Science Innovation Network (CALIN), and funded through the European Regional Development Fund, the project will allow Wales and Ireland to make key advancements in several medical fields whilst generating new jobs and attracting investment in both nations.

Professor Arwyn Jones from Cardiff University's School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, who is leading the Cardiff University group, (with Pharmacy colleagues Jenna Bowen, Mark Gumbleton, James Birchall, and Peter Watson from the School of Biosciences), said: “The CALIN project is a unique opportunity for Wales to accelerate medical innovation in the region and stay at the forefront of emerging fields in the medical sector..."

"By working closely with our counterparts in Ireland, and SME’s across the two regions, Welsh universities can help develop innovative products that will improve the health and commercial sectors of both nations.”

Professor Arwyn Tomos Jones, Professor of Membrane Traffic and Drug Delivery

CALIN is led by Swansea University and includes Bangor University, Cardiff University, University College Dublin, The National University of Ireland Galway, University College Cork, Unilever and GE Healthcare.

The Welsh Government’s Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said: “Life science is a key sector in Wales and Ireland and this funding will support research and development, which is vital to the creation of new products, technology and jobs.

“It is excellent news for more than 240 small and medium-sized businesses and I’m delighted that expertise in the participating universities will be shared and used across both our countries.”

Irish Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe said: “The Ireland-Wales programme shows how EU funding can contribute to successful cross-border cooperation – in this case across our maritime border with the UK. The CALIN project is an excellent example of how it supports research and development in universities for the benefit of enterprises of all sizes, leading to new jobs and further investment in new technologies.

“This announcement shows funding under the Ireland-Wales programme is going ahead and that programme beneficiaries can plan for the future with confidence. The Irish Government strongly supports the programme and is committed to its successful implementation.”

The network will offer research and technology development and innovation support to SMEs in the areas of Precision Medicine (diagnostics, devices & therapeutics), Regenerative Medicine, and Bio-Compatibility & Safety Evaluation.

All R&D activities will include a collaborative partnership between an SME and both an Irish and a Welsh University over a 1-3 year period, depending on the nature of the development programme.

CALIN hopes to engage and assist over 240 enterprises throughout Wales and Ireland and interested SMEs should contact Professor Arwyn Jones.

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