£10 million competition for new genome analysis tools

2 December 2013

The UK Department of Health has launched a £10 million competition to encourage businesses to develop novel technology for genome analysis.
 
Successful companies will receive a share of the funding pot to aid them in the development of new or improved technology ‘to help identify and treat inherited diseases and cancer’.
 
These aims are precisely in line with those of the 100,000 Genomes Project, and this is no accident; the intention is to support Genomics England (GeL), the National Health Service (NHS) owned company charged with delivery of the project to sequence 100,000 NHS patient genomes and link these data to their medical records by 2017. It may also be of value to Public Health England (PHE) with their own brief to develop whole genome sequencing for infectious disease care and control.
 
Heath Minister Lord Howe said the competition would harness the creativity and ingenuity of businesses to help reach the target of 100,000 genome sequences, adding that this “vital investment in pioneering scientific research is good news for patients, for the research sector and for the economy”.
 
Proposals are requested by 5th February 2014 and winning bids are to be announced the following month. Details will be available from the Technology Strategy Board’s website.

Comment: The funding has come from the Department of Health and will be managed by Genomics England, so it may well be taken from the £100 million set aside for the 100,000 Genomes Project – a potentially worthwhile investment in ensuring that the sequences may have immediate clinical utility. Genome sequences alone, without high quality analysis and interpretation, have no clinical value. Moreover, GeL’s secondary aims include the stimulation of economic growth, so this call should tick that box by offering a cash boost to UK companies working in this area. 

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