UCB says that pharma-university collaborations can help the UK economy flourish. 

The Belgium firm says it is doing its part by supporting 45 PhD students through access to new technology, supervision and placement opportunities in company laboratories, but wants the UK to do more to help these types of partnerships.

UCB says that the government needs to ensure that new measures designed to strengthen partnerships between universities, business and the NHS actually deliver results which will place the UK at the forefront of medical research now, and in the future.

The company said it is currently covering the costs of laboratory consumables at their home university and tops–up direct grants awarded by government research councils. Over the course of a PhD, UCB invests around £70k worth of support per researcher, and its current commitment stands at £3.2 million, with more PhDs to be enrolled in the scheme in years ahead.

Neil Weir, senior VP of discovery at UCB, and chair of the Innovation Board of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said: “Success in scientific innovation is increasingly built on rapid exchange of ideas between academic and industrial sectors. The reality is that the scientist of tomorrow will need the skills to be effective in both environments.

“Supporting academic science is at the heart of UCB’s strategy for the future of medical research. The government published a review earlier this year which called for greater business-university collaboration. If this is fulfilled, the next review will report that universities are firmly at the heart of our economy, collaborating with business and government in generating the wealth that is necessary for a healthy and prosperous society.”

This investment also helps UCB by having strong ties to future scientists who may be encouraged to work for the company after their PhDs. It also allows the firm access to new and innovative thinking outside its own walls.

The ABPI is also pushing for new partnerships between its members and universities, with the UK pharma group recently saying that partnerships will be the new way of doing R&D.