Industry refuses to cough up for lab

June 21, 2002

Oxford University will open its £60 million Chemical Research Laboratory today with almost no funding from UK industry.

Graham Richards, chairman of chemistry, is expected to be highly critical of the UK pharmaceutical industry at the opening.

"We have raised £60 million to build what will be the biggest university research chemistry laboratory in the world, and of this money only £250,000 has come from UK industry, and that from Thomas Swan and Co - which is a privately run company," he said.

He added: "Not a penny has been provided by the almost defunct UK chemical industry, which may not be surprising, but neither have we received a penny from the profitable pharmaceutical sector, which very much depends on our graduates and research for its future. One does begin to worry very seriously whether our pharmaceutical industry is not slipping overseas."

The laboratory is being mainly funded through a £30 million award from the Joint Infrastructure Fund and £20 million from investment bank Beeson Gregory. In return, the bank has a share of the university's equity in chemistry spin-off companies for the next five years.

The laboratory will house about 400 researchers and will be organised around interdisciplinary research themes rather than traditional specialisms.

* At Imperial College, London, two London investment houses - Fleming Family and Gordon House - have signed a long-term partnership that will inject millions into Imperial's spin-off companies in return for a 30 per cent stake in the college's holdings.

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