Prime Minister opens two new buildings at leading Cambridge Genome Campus

PUBLISHED: 17:30 21 November 2016 | UPDATED: 17:32 21 November 2016

Prime Minister Theresa May at Wellcome Trust Genome Campus at Hinxton. Picture: Sanger Institute, Genome Research Ltd

Prime Minister Theresa May at Wellcome Trust Genome Campus at Hinxton. Picture: Sanger Institute, Genome Research Ltd

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PM announces £2bn funding for R&D and then visits Cambridge

Prime Minister Theresa May visited Cambridge after announcing the government is to invest £2bn to keep the country at the forefront of science and technology.

The cash will go to Research and Development and the PM took a trip to the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus at Hinxton which is one of the city’s top organisations in that field.

The PM joined key stakeholders from across the life sciences sector to open the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute’s new “Bridget Ogilvie Building” and the “Biodata Innovation Centre” at the campus.

Mrs May said: “: “It is an honour to open these buildings as they truly represent cutting edge British science and business in the modern era.

“What I’ve seen on the Wellcome Genome Campus is an excellent example of research from across the UK and around the world coming together with commerce to deliver benefits for everybody including patients in the NHS.

“We want the UK to be the ‘go to’ place for scientists, innovators, businesses and investors. This really is a very good example of that.”

The PM made her visit after announcing the £2bn funding as part of a new Industrial Strategy Challenge which is aimed at helping the country to capitalise on its strengths in cutting edge research like AI and biotech.

The funding will be delivered over the next four years for R&D and Mrs May added: “Our modern Industrial Strategy will be ambitious for business and ambitious for Britain.

“It is a new way of thinking for government – a new approach. It is about government stepping up, not stepping back, building on our strengths, and helping Britain overcome the long-standing challenges in our economy that have held us back for too long.

“It is about making the most of the historic opportunity we now have to signal an important, determined change. It is not about propping up failing industries or picking winners, but creating the conditions where winners can emerge and grow.

“It is about backing those winners all the way, to encourage them to invest in the long-term future of Britain. And about delivering jobs and economic growth to every community and corner of the country. That is the ambition – and we need your help to put it into practice.”

The Sanger Institute is one of the world’s leading genome centres and a major UK scientific success story.

Together the new buildings will house one of the world’s most advanced gene sequencing facilities and a unique innovation space for global genomics and biodata businesses.

The buildings will be home to a powerful collaboration between academia, businesses large and small, charities and Government.

The Ogilvie Building houses the Sanger Institute’s genome sequencing facility which has expertise in sequencing genomes from humans, pathogens and many other species with samples arriving from all corners of the world.

“It also houses the Genomics England sequencing operation which is delivering the 100,000 Genomes Project. The project will enable the NHS to become the first mainstream health service in the world to offer genomic medicine as part of routine care.

Sir John Chisholm, Executive Chairman of Genomics England said: “The UK is recognised across the world for being the first nation to introduce whole genome sequencing at scale in routine care environments. The Ogilvie facility is central to that achievement and opens the way to the virtuous circle of treating patients with genomic medicine leading to knowledge creation leading to advanced therapies leading to superior health outcomes.”

The Biodata Innovation Centre houses start-up companies in the field of genomics emanating from local academic research, as well as cutting edge companies attracted from around the world – already businesses have moved to the Centre from the US, Europe and Asia – to collaborate with the UK’s best scientists.

Professor Sir Mike Stratton, director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and chief executive of the Wellcome Genome Campus, said: “Genomes and biodata are an important part of all our futures. The Campus is home to research institutes, spin-out and start-up companies, academic-industry partnerships and Genomics England; all dedicated to driving and leading pioneering research and innovation and discourse in the sphere of genomes and biodata.”

The Ogilvie building is named in honour of Dame Bridget Ogilvie, who worked at Wellcome for 19 years - seven of those as Director. It was during her tenure, that Wellcome established the Sanger Institute and shaped its key role in the human genome project.

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Wellcome’s Director said: “Genome sequencing is already changing the face of medicine, making possible more accurate and personalized treatments than ever before. Wellcome is delighted to build on its support of over 20 years standing with the launch of the Sanger Institute’s new sequencing and business incubation centres, which will accelerate further the application of genomics to human health and create significant economic benefits for the UK.”

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