The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council has earmarked Pounds 8 million to speed up the commercial exploitation of genetic research.
The money will go towards special equipment, such as mass spectrometers and robots, for faster analysis of gene functions. The equipment will help to create "DNA libraries" of organisms.
Announcing the "functional genomics" scheme yesterday at a Biochemical Society conference, BBSRC's Doug Yarrow said the results could be used to treat human diseases, create pest-resistant crops and alleviate pollution.
The scheme is expected to play a major role in a new government initiative to encourage greater academic and industrial enterprise in genetics. The "Genome Valley" initiative was inspired by successful industry-university partnerships such as Silicon Valley.
Dr Yarrow said that a Pounds 250,000 contest would be launched in January. The "Biosciences Business Plan Competition" is being run by the BBSRC and the Medical Research Council with money from Glaxo Wellcome and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation.