Commenting in reaction to the Chancellor’s budget on 27th October 2021, Dr Peter Jackson, executive director, Infex Therapeutics, said:

“The announcement today that the government is increasing public R&D investment to record levels to cement the UK as a global science and technology superpower is hugely encouraging news, and reflects the importance of innovative, entrepreneurial companies to the future economic wellbeing of our country as we seek to recover from the pandemic.

“In particular it is very encouraging to see funding for Innovate UK increasing significantly to £1.1 billion by 2024/5, providing much-needed government support to early-stage businesses allowing them to leverage additional private sector finance through the funding ‘valley of death’.

“Within that, the best strategy to futureproof our country against further economic uncertainty caused by the devastating impact of the past eighteen months is to better prepare for critical-priority infectious diseases.

“Whilst the Chancellor did not announce any specific measures to support firms working to develop new treatments for antimicrobial resistance (AMR), Innovate UK now has the resources to make a real impact on the rising AMR pandemic.

“Prior to COVID-19, AMR already represented one of the biggest health and economic threats to the world. The pandemic has only exacerbated those issues and made it more important that treatments are developed. The creation of COVID-19 vaccines in such a short space of time reflects the power of science, academia and industry working together.

“Announcements regarding such as a combination working against AMR may not have been announced today, but the government has previously indicated it appreciates the potential for UK companies such as Infex Therapeutics to take a leading role in this area, bringing innovative new treatments for AMR and coronoaviruses forward into clinical trials.

“Infex is also a proud founder member of iiCON, the Infection Innovation Consortium headed by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, which received £18.6 million from UK Research and Innovation Strength in Places Fund (SIPF). iiCON serves to bridge the gap in the R&D ecosystem between industry, academia, and the NHS, to accelerate and support the discovery and development of innovative new anti-infective drugs.

“Through iiCON and SIPF, the government has demonstrated it understands the importance of supporting local ecosystems in order the tackle the biggest health challenges we’re currently facing. With this welcome increase in R&D funding I would encourage ministers to build upon the work already undertaken on science excellence and place and consider what further steps can be taken to support the much-needed preparedness work in infectious diseases. With iiCON and the world-leading cluster in the North West, we have the foundations already laid, and with further investment we can help our country, and the world, to develop the solutions that will save lives and protect our way of life. This is a great opportunity and the time to act is now!”