The importance of partnerships
Our success is critically dependent on working closely in partnership with other teams and organisations. Of course, these include individual grant holders - but also universities, institutes, industry, governments and funders. This year we have developed many new partnerships as well as continuing with existing productive relationships.
An important new initiative is our translational partnerships. We have started these with Imperial College, Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, Bristol and Edinburgh universities. We are developing tailored portfolios of translational activities (seed funds, mentorship, entrepreneurs in residence etc) to encourage and increase translation.
Initially we have committed around £6m to these partnerships, and during 2018 we will identify new partners. In the long-term we hope to build a broad global network to help share and spread great ideas and practice in translation and innovation. We want all scientists to be able to translate their discoveries to impact - irrespective of where they are or who funds them!
We are continuing to build on our partnership with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) through our support of two centres for medical engineering. These exciting centres are delivering new technological advances with direct application to patients right now. Our support for these centres also reinforces our commitment to cross-disciplinary translational research in general. We are convinced that many of the most exciting new innovations in health will come from the engineering and physical sciences.
We were pleased to continue and expand our partnership with the University of Dundee and GSK in the area of neglected tropical disease drug discovery. This flagship investment is delivering pre-clinical drug candidates for conditions such as leishmaniasis and Chagas disease.
We decided to provide further support for the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT), which has been running for five years. This is a unique partnership between the Japanese government, pharmaceutical industry partners, the Gates Foundation and Wellcome. The focus is on supporting innovations that can have an impact in diseases of extreme poverty. GHIT has already funded 81 projects to date and we have helped secure another $200m to continue and grow the portfolio.
We have a particular interest in supporting the development of innovations for low-resource settings - especially vaccines which have the potential to help billions of people. A critical ongoing partnership for us in the area of vaccines is with Merck, with whom we established the Hilleman Laboratories in New Delhi, India, in 2009.
It has been an exceptional year for the Hilleman Labs. They have made rapid progress in clinical advancement of their low-cost oral, thermally-stable vaccines for rotavirus and cholera. Success of the Hilleman venture could result in vaccines that could improve the health of hundreds of millions of people in the 2020s and 2030s.