Science committee start taking evidence on the valley of death

Posted on April 12, 2012 by


Just spotted the Commons Science & Technology committee start taking evidence for their inquiry into the valley of death – exploring the barriers to the development and commercialisation of research into new drugs and treatments – next Wednesday 18 April. Should be an interesting session to listen to..


If life sciences is going to deliver better healthcare for patients and be a growth area for the UK economy, we have to be good not just at doing the research but translating what we’ve found out into commercial applications, i.e. things we can make and sell and can help patients, new drugs and treatments etc. At the moment there are barriers to this translation process, with a lack of funding to drive ideas through it’s often referred to as “the valley of death”

David Cameron referred to the “valley of death” and government measures to tackle this when he launched the life sciences strategy on 5 December:

…And as you look to work more and more with smaller companies it is crucial that we do more to deal with the funding gap that so many people face – the so-called Valley of Death.  So we’ve got a whole package of measures to bridge that gap – tax relief on angel investment up from 20% to 30%.  The amount that can be invested in a single company in a year up from two million to 10 million and together these mean that if you build a business worth up to £25 million and then sell it, you’re going to be better off in the UK than you would be in the US.

Last December the Science and Technology Committee launched an inquiry into the causes of the ‘valley of death’ and how they might be overcome. 

AMRC responded to this call for evidence – medical research charities have a strong mandate from their supporters to ensure the research they invest in delivers better healthcare for patients. We are concerned that research does not get stuck but is translated into new therapies which can treat patients.

This is now the second phase of their inquiry – inviting experts in to parliament for the committee to question.

Who’s up on Wednesday?

At 9.15 am

  • Professor Luke Georghiou, Vice President (Research and Innovation), University of Manchester; Professor of Science and Technology Policy and Management, Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, Manchester Business School
  • Dr Paul Nightingale, Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex (SPRU), and Exeter Business School
  • David Connell, Co-founder, TTP Ventures; Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Business Research/ UK Innovation Research Centre, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Douglas Robertson, Chair, PraxisUnico; Director of Research and Enterprise Services, Newcastle University

At 10.15 am

  • Dr Ted Bianco, Director of Technology Transfer, Wellcome Trust
  • Dr Ian Tomlinson, Senior Vice President, Head of Worldwide Business Development and Biopharmaceuticals R&D, GlaxoSmithKline
  • Dr David Tapolczay, Chief Executive Officer, Medical Research Council Technology
  • Dr Gareth Goodier, Chair, Shelford Group (Chief Executives of England’s Academic Medical Centres and large teaching hospitals); Chief Executive, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Dr Andy Richards, Serial biotechnology entrepreneur and business angel

You’ll be able to watch live online here and once transcribed, the text of the session will be here (scroll down for the uncorrected oral evidence).

Posted in: Policy