SOAS University of London

Cross university programme Bloomsbury SET awarded £1.9 million to accelerate solutions to combat infectious disease and antimicrobial resistance

22 July 2021

The Bloomsbury SET – a knowledge exchange programme led by The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) of which SOAS is a member– has been awarded further funding from Research England, totalling £1.9 million. Beginning in July 2021, the year-long project will help commercialise research into infectious disease and antimicrobial resistance. 

Building on the current work of The Bloomsbury SET, this new programme, entitled ‘The Bloomsbury SET: A London-Liverpool alliance to accelerate solutions to infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance’, retains three of the four original collaborating institutions. 

Joining existing partners, SOAS, the RVC and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), is a new partner, the Infection Innovation Consortium (iiCON), led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. The programme also works closely with the London International Development Centre (LIDC), a consortium of seven Colleges of the University of London shaping the future of international development.

iiCON brings together public and private partners in a £170 million programme born out of the Liverpool City Region. The consortium builds on the North West’s UK-leading capability in infectious diseases R&D. 

With infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) now a high priority for global public health, there is an urgent need for both academic and commercial sectors to work together more effectively to prepare and respond to existing and emerging challenges. 

In response to these critical threats, The Bloomsbury SET’s new Impact Connector programme will work with businesses to deliver products including vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics that will benefit both animals and humans. Aiming to transform the support for commercialisation of research across the partner institutions, it will build a collaborative culture across geographically-dispersed sites, creating the potential for strong synergies to arise from linking the key investments by Research England. 

Impact Connector will target colleagues across the consortium who are at an early stage in their commercialisation journey, aiming to develop a pipeline of skilled innovators and support the most competitive ideas to progress to higher Technology Readiness Levels. Throughout the 12-month period, the programme of activities will accelerate partnerships, skills training and product development, including:

  • A programme with bespoke workshops, peer-to-peer learning, and business mentoring to support product development.
  • A skills programme for academics and other university staff to develop their understanding of the concepts required to commercialise academic research and work with strategic partners.
  • A series of events and activities to support connections between academics and appropriate commercial partners.

As part of this process, The Bloomsbury SET will provide small grants to nurture new collaborations and knowledge ecosystems, support the best technologies to move closer to market, and thus help safeguard global health.

Dr Ying Chen, Head of Research & Knowledge Exchange at SOAS said:

“SOAS has been a Bloomsbury SET partner since 2018 and we have seen some fruitful interdisciplinary collaborations. This additional year's award will allow us to harvest the connections we have already established and generate more opportunities for collaboration. We look forward to collaborating with the RVC, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), and the Infection Innovation Consortium (iiCON)."

Professor Richard Bomphrey, Interim Vice-Principal for Research at the RVC, said: 

"There has never been a better time to bring together an outstanding interdisciplinary and inter-sectorial consortium to take on the globally important and pressing issues of infectious disease and antimicrobial resistance. The Bloomsbury SET Impact Connector programme will support innovators as they take promising therapeutics from the laboratory to communities worldwide."

Professor Janet Hemingway CBE, Director of iiCON, said:

“Joint innovation and collaboration is critical if we’re to revitalise and innovate the anti-infectives pipeline and combat the growing global threat of AMR. iiCON is delighted to be joining the Bloomsbury SET’s Liverpool London Alliance and we look forward to working in partnership to support industry and expedite the discovery and development of innovative new treatments and products to reduce the global burden of infectious diseases.”

Dr Hannah Whiteman, Head of Strategic Research at LSHTM, said:

“The Bloomsbury SET Impact Connector programme represents an excellent opportunity to build further links with our regional KE partners at RVC and SOAS, and strengthen our national network through a new partnership with the Infection Innovation Consortium (iiCON). The programme will empower our innovators across career stages with training, funding, and opportunities to forge new external industrial networks and advance their technologies closer to delivering societal and economic impact.”

About The Bloomsbury SET
Starting in April 2018, this £5-million translational research programme led by The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and funded by Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund, has focused on the development of new vaccines and diagnostic tools, and addressing innovative approaches for data analysis and public health.

The existing Bloomsbury SET projects portfolio comprises eight Project Grants, three Innovation Fellowships, eight studies using Artificial Intelligence / Big Data, five Commercialization projects and six Social Sciences projects. The programme adopts the One Health Approach, creating opportunities for innovation and integration across different disciplines.

For more information, please visit The Bloomsbury Set website.