Six new approaches to fighting neurodegeneration to be funded in SBC’s

Diverse players collaborate on first step in plan to tackle disorder via open innovation

Stevenage UK, January 21 2015 – Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC), the UK’s first open innovation bioscience campus, is delighted to announce that six exciting academic research projects have been selected for support under its open innovation challenge in neurodegenerative disease. Covering a range of approaches to tracking, diagnosing and treating this range of disorders, the successful applications came from the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester, as well as UCL and Imperial College London. They were selected on the basis of a range of criteria, including impact potential, the level of innovation and opportunities for collaboration.

Recognising the need for new approaches to tackle diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, SBC worked with MIMIT1 and the universities’ Academic Health Science Centre Technology Transfer Organisations2 to develop the scheme, which was launched last year. It is designed to provide small amounts of funding to kick-start research, and is supported by Astex Pharmaceuticals, Alzheimer’s Research UK, Eli Lilly, GE Healthcare Life Sciences and GSK, who are also contributing their extensive expertise. This will be invaluable to the selected projects, which focus on biomarkers for diagnosis and stratification, and the role of inflammation in neurodegeneration.

More detail on the Open Innovation Challenge in Neurodegenerative Disease, including the lessons learned in developing it and next steps, will be discussed further at SBC’s 2015 Open Innovation Summit – How Far Have We Come? – on January 29th.

Ray Hill, President Emeritus, British Pharmacological Society & Chair of the OI Challenge Review Panel, commented, ‘Everyone on the panel was impressed by the quality and breadth of the project proposals submitted for review by the academic researchers. It’s great to see exciting new approaches to neurodegenerative disease being generated by the UK’s strong science base, with the SBC open innovation challenge providing vital support for further investigation.’

Martino Picardo, CEO of Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, said, ‘Congratulations to all those researchers whose projects were selected for further development, and we look forward to seeing the results next year. We’re delighted to have concluded successfully the initial step in our initiative to bring benefit to neurodegenerative disease patients through open innovation – hopefully the first of many such schemes. Bringing together a diverse range of players is vital for driving innovation, and we’d like to thank our partners for their involvement and support.’


1 Manchester: Integrating Medicine and Innovative Technology

2 AHSC Technology Transfer Organisations involved: Cambridge Enterprise, Imperial Innovations, King’s Business, UCL Business, University of Manchester Intellectual Property, and Isis Innovation (Oxford University)

For more information, please contact:
Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst
Martino Picardo, CEO +44 (0)1438 906906
Emma Palmer Foster, Strategic Communications Consultant +44 (0)7880 787185

Notes for Editors

Selected projects

• University of Cambridge/UCL: Retinal cell biomarkers in the eyes: proof of concept study in people with Down’s syndrome, a high-risk population for Alzheimer’s disease

• University of Cambridge: inflammatory biomarkers and dementia risk in Parkinson’s Disease

• University of Oxford: Metabolomics approach to diagnosis of progressive disease in multiple sclerosis using NMR

• Imperial College London: micro-RNAs in population screening for cognitive impairment

• University of Manchester: Use of multiple biomarkers to stratify Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias

• University of Manchester: Development of novel NLRP3 inflammazone inhibitors for Alzheimer’s disease

About Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst

Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst is the UK’s first open innovation bioscience campus, pioneering a unique culture to drive early stage bioscience technology and company development, and building a thriving community. It is backed by £38m of funding from its founding partners – GlaxoSmithKline, the Wellcome Trust, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Technology Strategy Board and the former East of England Development Agency. Consisting of an Incubator, an Accelerator and a Hub, covering 60,000 sq ft of laboratory, office and networking space, the independent facility houses a range of companies, from virtual and start-up firms to those which are more established, as well as other organisations. Co-located with GlaxoSmithKline on the Stevenage site, Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst is in the unique position of operating in proximity to the expertise and resources of a major pharmaceutical company, close to both London and Cambridge. For more information, please go to

About Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst’s stakeholders
Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst’s stakeholders are GlaxoSmithKline (, the Wellcome Trust (, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (, Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board; and the former East of England Development Agency (

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