FUNDING FOR COLLABORATIVE R&D – GO FOR IT! Aquapharm’s success in getting funding for collaborat

Released: Tuesday 18th December 2012

 Aquapharm is a small but innovative Scottish life sciences discovery company pioneering the development of breakthrough products founded on the vast, untapped chemical diversity of marine micro-organisms.  The company's goal is to harness this novel resource to rapidly discover and develop novel pharmaceuticals able to target unmet clinical needs in oncology and multi-drug resistant bacterial infections. 

To do that Aquapharm needs to undertake a lot of R&D with universities and other companies, which represents a big overhead for a small company.  But over the last decade, Aquapharm has been very successful in obtaining public sector funding to support collaborative R&D.  Since 2006, it has been given 7 grants by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) by responding adeptly to TSB calls, and has also been successful at getting EU money under the FP7 programme.

 Prof Andrew Mearns-Spragg, Aquapharm’s Founder & Chief Technology Officer, said “Many companies are put off by what appears to be the complexity of the application process.  Our experience is that it’s not that difficult, but there are some key points to look out for:-

       ·         Watch for calls for applications – register for email alerts from Enterprise Europe Network Scotland, Scotland Europa, TSB or the Commission.

·         Look at the funding call carefully and ask yourself the question – are we doing things in this area already?  Do we already have IP or the technology to contribute to the R&D being sought?  Can my company specifically deliver exactly what is being looked for by the fund call?  If it’s a stretch of the imagination to honestly say yes to these questions, then don’t apply.

·         Assign responsibility for the application to one person in the company who can co-ordinate it from end to end.

·         Read the instructions carefully; all the information on how to achieve a successful grant is written clearly.  The key success factor is your business case - make sure it stacks up.

·         Answer the questions honestly – a fudged answer sticks out a mile to experienced assessors.”

 Andrew added “I would be very happy to help any life sciences company with the structure of a funding application – happy to be of assistance”. The SLA also has experience in the process and can help companies get started.

 A key source of assistance for companies considering applications in response to FP7 and Eurostars calls, as successfully used by Aquapharm, is Scottish Enterprise through its Enterprise Europe Network Scottish office. For established businesses looking for advice and support to participate in European Collaboration Programmes, SE currently offers  up to 2 days advice from an external consultant to help explain and clarify the FP7 application process; make sure the projects fits with the FP7 Call; and resolve any project management issues around working collaboratively with a number of European business partners.  Where an application is to be progressed, SE can then offer up to 50% funding of up to  maximum of £5OOO toward the internal staff costs of the company preparing a draft FP7 project application. 

 With only one more round of FP7 remaining SE are set to offer a similar support mechanism to encourage participation in the subsequent Horizon 20/20 programme.  Access to FP7 project  support (European Collaboration) is via  SE's Enterprise Europe Network Scotland team -

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