Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has this week launched the fourth round of the Regional Growth Fund (RGF), which supports projects and programmes using private sector investment to create economic growth, and could benefit firms in the UK life sciences industry.

Businesses across the country can now bid for a share of the £350 million cash pot being made available from this round of the Fund, under which a planned total of £2.6 billion will have been handed out by the government to successful applicants between 2011 and 2016.

The RGF is designed to help "rebalance the economy" by investing in companies that can create employment and "attract substantial match-funding from the private sector"; for every pound the government puts in, the private sector is providing six.

The Fund has already helped 180 projects get started, and those from the first three rounds have pledged to create or secure half a million jobs along with a £13-billion private sector investment into the economy.

"The additional £350 million for the Regional Growth Fund is a big boost for those parts of the country facing structural problems," said Business Secretary Vince Cable, noting that it has already supported a variety of industries as well as over a thousand small and medium enterprise (SMEs).

Five of bids linked to the pharmaceuticals sector were selected in round three of the Fund, including that from early stage drug development group Redx Pharma, which scored a £4.7 million grant to help fund an initial two-year preclinical phase of a five-year R&D project aiming to deliver new treatments for microbial infection as well as antiviral therapies for conditions such as influenza, hepatitis C and HIV.