Belgium's UCB and Oxford University have signed a deal to collaborate on "cutting-edge pharmaceutical research projects" to develop medicines to treat serious diseases in immunology and neurology.

The partnership will be funded by a contribution of £3.6 million from UCB and between five and ten projects will be selected for investigation over the course of the three-year agreement. Roch Doliveux, UCB's chief executive (pictured) said the firm "actively connects its internal capabilities with world-class innovation, especially in academia" and the deal combines the university’s "world-class academic research with UCB’s world-class antibody research".

Sir John Bell, Regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, said that partnerships between industry and academia "will have an increasingly prominent role to play in the development of new drugs, therapies and medical technologies". He added that "pooling expertise and resources is exactly what we should be doing to carry out the best research, identify the most promising new drug candidates and take them forward".

Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, said that “in our Strategy for UK Life Sciences, the government "set out ambitious plans to make Britain the number one choice for investment, so [the] announcement from UCB and Oxford University is very welcome news".