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Yorkshire and China join forces to commercialise cancer technologies

7 August 12

Open innovation workshop team

Yorkshire Cancer Research, in partnership with the University of Bradford, has just completed stage one of its involvement in the UK China Healthtech Open Innovation Workshop Programme

The project team for the programme has recently returned from Guangzhou, China after a successful workshop designed to foster collaborations in the area of cancer technologies. There was a particular focus on imaging technologies, diagnostics, biomarkers and medical devices.

Together with the project team at the university, the charity selected 13 candidates from the Yorkshire academic, clinical and business communities to attend the workshop, which ran in Guangzhou over a five day period.

The project team, with their links into Chinese academia, industry and regional government, were able to secure a similar number of potential Chinese collaborators to attend to discuss shared opportunities.

Morgan Williams, Commercial Development Officer for Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: "The charity has an agenda to help move innovative cancer technologies towards a position where they become ready for further development and exploitation by the biotechnology or pharmaceutical industries, thus directly benefitting our donor base here in Yorkshire.

"With difficult economic conditions here in the UK, it has become increasingly hard in recent years to access funding to move these projects along the pathway towards the patient. The University of Bradford-run UK China Open Innovation Programme looks to forge collaborations between Yorkshire technologies and Chinese partners, and to allow those collaborations, subject to scrutiny from a funding panel, to access Guangzhou regional government funding to progress the collaborative project in a commercial context.

"Our role is to help generate and foster these collaborations, and hopefully secure access to funding to progress the development of these technologies which would otherwise be unavailable to them."

The next stage of the workshop programme will involve the Yorkshire-based candidates working with their Chinese collaborators on formal applications to the funding panel, hoping to access the development funding, limited to RMB 2,000,000 (approximately £200,000) per project available via Guangzhou Development District, along with additional match funding from Chinese partners.

Mr Williams continued: "Together with the Bradford Project Team we will review the success of this first workshop after the funding panel has made its decision later this year. If the collective view is that the process has been successful for the participants, we will repeat the workshop in 2013 but with a focus on cancer therapeutics and drugs."

The Bradford-based programme has the support of UKTI and the UK government. As part of the formal proceedings during the week, the workshop candidates were present at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between China and the UK recording the allocation of 80,000 square metres of space on Guangzhou’s International Biotech Island for UK-China projects, a purpose built international biotech research and development cluster, which in time may host the commercial fruits of the collaborative projects brokered at the workshop by the charity.

Mr Williams said: "One of the things we recognise is that, whilst our technologies begin their life in the Yorkshire region, to deliver benefit to cancer patients they will have to make the transition into national and international arenas. China will be the world’s largest healthcare market by 2020, overtaking the US. So to take these technologies into this environment to begin their journey towards the cancer patient seems a wise investment for the future, particularly given the commercial development funding and partnership opportunities available."

Paul Thorning, Director of Open Innovation at the University of Bradford, said: "I'm delighted that Yorkshire Cancer Research has chosen to support our Open Innovation Programme with Guangzhou. The Yorkshire region has many impressive academics, companies and hospitals focusing on cancer, and at the workshop we were able to represent these strengths to the full. Guangzhou itself is a leading centre in cancer in China, and with their strong desire to collaborate and ability and willingness to invest, together we face a great opportunity to bring cancer technologies more quickly to market. In supporting this programme, Yorkshire Cancer Research have demonstrated their own innovativeness and determination that the research they have sponsored in this region has the opportunity to benefit cancer patients world-wide."

7 August 12

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