Vital ties between Britain’s pharmaceutical industry and the university science base are weakening, according to new research.
Private sponsorship of university research has fallen dramatically during the last five years, a survey of 11 major UK-based companies showed.
In 2007, pharmaceutical companies collaborated with 78 universities on 606 PhD student projects and 327 postdoctoral research programmes by sharing funding and personnel.
But the figures were down from 2003, when the number of PhD and postdoctoral collaborations were 14% and almost 25% higher.
Dr Philip Wright, director of science and technology at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) which announced the figures, said: “While the industry continues to work closely with universities, there is a worrying decline in the level of activity.
“There have been real benefits from these collaborations for both academia and industry, with a two-way flow of skills and knowledge. It has been a ‘win-win’ situation that has been one of the UK’s historical strengths, and Britain can ill afford to have it damaged.”
Soaring costs and intellectual property issues were making it harder to negotiate contracts, the group said.
The ABPI’s director general Dr Richard Barker said: “With increasing competition for biomedical leadership from Asian economies, it is vital that Government and industry unite to restore confidence and maximise the UK’s chances in the global race for pharmaceutical innovation.”
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