The Universities of Warwick and Birmingham in the UK have been awarded nearly £20 million between them to pursue translational medicine initiatives, cementing the status of the West Midlands as a regional hub for clinical research.

According to Advantage West Midlands, the regional development agency funding the Translational Medicine scheme as part of its Science City initiative, the region has “the largest concentration of clinical trials activity in Europe”, helped significantly by its ethnically diverse population.

The Science City initiative draws together industry, business and the educational and public sectors in an effort to position the West Midlands as a centre for world-class scientific research.

In keeping with this multidisciplinary approach, business partnership managers will be established at Warwick and Birmingham Universities under the Translational Medicine scheme to facilitate collaborative research between the universities and regional/national pharmaceutical and biomedical companies as well as other related bodies.

Professor Yvonne Carter, pro-vice chancellor for regional engagement and dean of Warwick Medical School, said: “This collaboration, involving as it does two major research universities and the National Health Service, is quite unprecedented and represents an exciting new opportunity for a vastly expanded engagement with industry”.

The University of Warwick has been awarded £9.87 million to take new medical developments into clinical trials while the University of Birmingham gets £9.85 million to develop world-class biomedical research, with an emphasis on encouraging greater collaboration between scientists and industry.

Some of this money will go towards refurbishing laboratories and building a new Clinical Trials facility at the University of Warwick, as well as setting up a dedicated human tissue biorepository and refurbishing existing facilities to step up clinical trials activity at its Birmingham counterpart.

There will also be funds for a mobile clinical trials unit, which will visit regional GP surgeries and hospitals that lack their own research facilities.