University of Bath

MRC Proximity to Discovery: industry engagement fund

Find out about and apply to the MRC Proximity to Discovery fund, for collaborating with industry in the area of therapeutic innovation.

MRC Proximity to Discovery Fund is exchanging between industry and academic researchers in therapeutic innovation.
MRC Proximity to Discovery Fund is exchanging between industry and academics in therapeutic innovation.

About the fund

The Medical Research Council (MRC) has awarded the University of Bath £89,000, through the 2018/19 Proximity to Discovery (P2D) scheme. This is for early engagement and knowledge exchange between industry and academic researchers, in the area of therapeutic innovation.

The fund will enable the University to be proactive in developing opportunities for collaboration with industry. It also allows greater flexibility to respond quickly to opportunities when they arise. The University will be organising academic-industry workshops and events and running a knowledge exchange secondment scheme with these funds.

See the Bath Centre for Therapeutic Innovation for our upcoming workshops and events.

P2D knowledge exchange secondment scheme

The University strategically aims to continue to “deliver research excellence by extending our collaborations to provide fresh perspectives and create new opportunities”.

The P2D scheme will enable academic and industrial partners to work in the same location on a shared research challenge. Knowledge exchange secondments are an excellent approach for both the academic and industrial researcher to maximise their network of contacts within a partner institute. This provides quality time to develop new ideas and potentially access new models or facilities.

Applications are invited for knowledge exchange secondments in any area of therapeutic innovation. Priority to will be given to the following three areas:

  • target validation and drug discovery
  • drug delivery across biological barriers
  • biomarkers in disease and diagnostics

There will be three streams to the knowledge exchange secondment scheme. These are:

Early career research exchange

To promote and encourage postdoctoral researchers, early stage independent research fellows or PhD students to engage with industrial partners through one- or two-way knowledge exchange secondments. This is a bespoke scheme for early career researchers that will include an experienced academic mentor at the University of Bath to help develop the industrial relationship and provide mentorship support during the secondment.

Academic secondment in industry

This is open to all lab-based academic staff for a short one or two-way placement with an industrial partner to develop the initial stages of a collaboration. These placements will help to exchange knowledge, develop new skills or provide access to new facilities to generate data towards a long-term partnership.

Commercial Awareness Exchange

This supports the exchange of University staff (including those in technical positions and in Research and Innovation Services) and industrial partners to increase the understanding of each other’s business approach.

Important things to note for your application are:

  • applications with new industrial partners will be prioritized in the scheme
  • exchanges can take place with UK and overseas industrial partners
  • exchanges should not exceed 6 months
  • funding will only be provided for the academic partner and costs directly associated with hosting an industrial partner in the University setting

There will be opportunities for two-way people exchange, for those best placed to benefit and promote continued collaboration (whether principle investigator, research assistant or associate, technician, fellow or student). This will involve spending time at the industrial partner or research organisation.

Knowledge exchange application process

If you are applying, you will need to prepare a plan and time schedule of how your funding would help achieve the aims of P2D. This application should be kept short, but give enough information to show how the secondment will meet the P2D funding criteria.

Complete our application form and see our guidelines.

Future deadlines will be displayed on this website.

Decisions on secondments will be made by the Bath P2D selection panel, made up of the following members:

  • Chair: Nick Brook
  • Industry representative: Richard Parry, Bath ASU
  • Industry representative: John Clarkson, Atlas Genetics
  • Patient/public representative: George Odam
  • Clinical representative: Mark Beresford
  • Post Doc representative: Alex Disney
  • Science ADR: Chick Wilson
  • Engineering ADR: Davide Mattia
  • HSS ADR: Ian Walker
  • RIS Director: Ali Evans

Applications will be assessed using the following criteria:

  • aligning with the remit and strategy of the MRC
  • addressing an important unmet medical need
  • clear and SMART objectives for the project (SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound)
  • clear and beneficial impact for both partners in participation
  • the benefit identified is both realistic and likely to be delivered by the activities described
  • clear plan for collaboration/relationship to continue (in any form) after the secondment
  • resources applied for are appropriate and fully justified

Potential secondments should be discussed with RIS prior to submission of your application form.

Funded research to date

Dr Christopher Pudney, Department of Biology and Biochemistry

Driving industrial adoption of QUBES

The proposal seeks to progress of our IP relating to a technology for identifying stable proteins. We think the approach can be used to make the process of developing new biopharmaceuticals faster and more successful. We will use the funding to interact with industrial partners to perform ‘Beacon Projects’ that can be used to drive the adoption of our approach.

Dr Katharine Fraser, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Transition to Turbulence in Artificial Hearts

Heart failure means that a person’s heart cannot pump enough blood around their body to keep their organs functioning. Patients with severe heart failure can have an artificial heart implanted: a mechanical pump to help the heart. Berlin Heart GmbH is a German company making artificial hearts. In this secondment we will spend one week at Berlin Heart conducting an experiment using ultrasound to measure the speed of the blood upstream and downstream of the different artificial hearts made by the company. From these measurements we will calculate how chaotic, or turbulent, the blood is when it leaves the artificial heart.

Dr Peter Rouse, Department for Health

Developing digital monitoring and motivation interventions for medicine adherence in long-term conditions

According to NICE, half of all medicines prescribed for long‑term conditions are not taken as recommended. This project is a collaboration between Living With, a digital healthcare technology company, the RUH and University of Bath to develop a new method for tracking and encouraging people to take their medication as they have been instructed. We will work to develop methods which encourage people to take their medicine and to understand why they have not taken it. We would like to use this initial funding to design a larger study to properly test whether the application works well.

Prof Richie Gill, Department of Mechanical Engineering

DynaVec: Lower limb functional diagnostic tool

Osteoarthritis of the knee is very common, and it is the cause of a great deal of suffering, social and economic burden. Not being able to “see” where the load is located relative to the knee during different activities limits the ability of surgeons to select the best treatment for patients. We will address this unmet medical need, creating new diagnostic tool, DynaVec. DynaVec will be easy to use in a hospital and allow the surgeon to see straight away where the load is relative to the knee. This will make patient management much easier and will translate into improved outcomes for patients with early knee osteoarthritis.