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Industry and academia build links in precision medicine and drug discovery

The University of Leicester recently hosted an event bringing together industry and academic in fruitful discussions on drug discovery and precision medicine.

The University successfully launched its first Bio-Homecoming partnering event in September with the support of the Medical Research Council (MRC) through the Proximity to Discovery: Industry Engagement Fund - a new scheme which aims to support early interactions and knowledge exchange between industry and academic researchers.

The event marks the start of an innovative programme for University of Leicester to engage with industry.

It was hosted at the Leicester Tigers Conference Centre and attended by over 200 delegates, 170 of which were industry delegates from the Pharma and Biotechnology sectors, including alumni, regional contacts and current collaborators of the University of Leicester.

Dr Ismael Tejero, Business Development Manager for the College and main organiser of the event, said: “We managed to advertise our expertise and scientific offer, including our two new Research Institutes of Precision Medicine and Structural and Chemical Biology, to a broad range of delegates in the biomedical industry.

“The environment created during the Bio-Homecoming event really encouraged our academics to successfully establish and develop relationships with industrial peers across the country but also from Ireland and Switzerland. With more than 25 exhibitors and 600 scheduled one-to-one meetings, this event has started big and there is already a lot of interest and expectation to see the agenda for the Bio-homecoming 2017.”

Feedback from the event was very positive, with many commenting on the networking value of the one-to-one sessions.

Professor Philip Baker (pictured left), Dean of Medicine at the University of Leicester, said: “The interaction of clinicians and scientists from our College - with industry partners, generated a tremendous buzz.  We are absolutely serious about strengthening and enhancing the synergies between academia and industry – in order to ensure that our research discoveries translate to public and patient benefit.”

Ian Cox from Idaco Consulting said: “I attend a lot of partnering events and this one was extremely well organised and run. The venue was ideal (even though I support Northampton Saints….), a good blend of talks and exhibitors, and the partnering meetings worked really well. Catering facilities were excellent. All in all a very enjoyable day. It was great to finally see what Leicester has to offer and I hope this event becomes an annual event because it will certainly increase and improve the University’s visibility.”

Following this successful event, additional activities are planned to further develop industry academia relationships. During the next academic year a series of in-house lunchtime workshops will be held, led by Industry experts, which will cover hot topics and key areas involved in translational biomedical research.

There will also be an opportunity for academics at the University of Leicester to apply for funding to support activities that require industry access. In addition there will be an opportunity to embed academics in an industry environment (for up to 6 months) to deliver collaborative projects and learn more about the areas of drug discovery and diagnostics development.

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