Entrepreneur rounds up movers and shakers for £100m stem-cell plan

February 4, 2005

The man planning to inject £100 million of mostly private money into the UK's stem-cell research community believes treatments based on the research could be available in about two years.

Sir Christopher Evans, who is chairman of Merlin Biosciences and charges up to £500,000 a day for his services as a consultant, said the fund would not be for profit but would be his way of "putting something back".

"This is the most exciting piece of science in the world right now," he said.

"I've done a survey, and there are hundreds of stem-cell projects in Britain. A lot of them are much closer to clinical trials than you would think."

The money would go towards kick-starting clinical trials to get research into hospitals and therapy in just two years.

"To be able to achieve this not just in a lifetime but in two or three years would be awesome. I want it done in the National Health Service using British science," he said.

Sir Christopher believes he has the ten most powerful names in science, politics and the City backing the plan, including Sir Richard Branson, the multimillionaire entrepreneur, and Lord Winston, fertility expert and television celebrity.

He plans to spend the next five years raising private funds, using as a lever the money the Government makes available from the public purse for such work. The first projects would be identified by May.

The former academic made his fortune from spin-off companies. Sir Christopher manages more than £300 million of equity funds and holds several honorary UK professorships.

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