The UK Government’s plans to create a new £150 million fund to promote innovation has received enthusiastic support from leading lights in the country’s life science industry.

The UK Innovation Investment Fund will be used to help developing industries including biotechnology and life sciences, and the government said this could leverage enough private investment to build a fund of up to £1 billion over the next 10 years.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown claimed that “venture capital finance is the lifeblood of innovation and crucial to ensuring the commercialisation of the discoveries coming out of our research base”. Lord Mandelson, Secretary of State for Business, added that it is also a challenge to UK venture capitalists to follow the Government’s lead “in backing British entrepreneurs in building exciting new companies, investing in new technologies and creating jobs”.

Science and Innovation Minister Lord Drayson added that “we must safeguard the Government’s record investment in the science and research base over the past decade”. He went on to claim that “we cannot afford to lose out on the wealth this investment can yield and we will need this wealth to continue our sustained investment in research”.

The response from industry was positive. Clive Dix, chairman of the BioIndustry Association, said his organisation is “delighted that the Government recognises that life sciences are core to the future of the British economy”. He added that the news “will send a strong signal that the UK is the place to grow companies” and it is “an excellent first step towards delivering an integrated strategy for life sciences”.

Richard Barker, director-general of the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries, said that “many great discoveries begin in small companies, many of which face an urgent funding crisis”. Meeting this need “is an important signal of government's intent” to helping the industry, he concluded.