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Small businesses and health sector to benefit from £10 million funding boost

SMEs and academics working in the life sciences industry have been awarded £10 million in funding, ministers have announced.

It is hoped the boost in finance will put the selected businesses and institutions on the path to exploring the market potential of early-stage scientific ideas.

Fourteen universities and 18 SMEs are to benefit from the funding which forms part of a wider £180 million in Government grants aimed directly at the industry.

The UK has one of the largest and most productive life science sectors, attracting almost ten per cent of the world's pharmaceutical research and development funding.

Making the announcement at the Global Business Summit - one of 18 conferences organised to promote British trade during the Olympics - health secretary Andrew Lansley and minister for life sciences David Willetts said that small businesses and the UK's health service would both benefit from the potential developments.

"We have cutting edge industries such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and medical technologies," Willets said.

"The Global Business Summit on Life Sciences will introduce some of the world's most important and influential sector leaders to see what the UK have to offer."

"It will also highlight how UK innovation continues to flourish and how the industry collaborates, to produce world class services, products and individuals."

The SMEs are being awarded £2.45 million to research areas including the development of antibiotics and drug detection from fingerprints, helping to cover 75 per cent of their total project costs.

Dundee and Oxford University will receive the biggest share of the remaining £7.5 million academic share of funding.

The UK is home to two of the world's top three universities in Life Sciences and biomedicine with the country producing the highest number of science, mathematics and computing graduates annually in the EU.