The UK maintains a world-class biological and medical research base within its Universities, supporting and collaborating with a raft of companies translating that research into products to improve quality of life. In 2001 the EPSRC launched a major initiative to build research capacity within the UK at the interface between the mathematical and physical, and the life and biomedical sciences. Responding to and funded through this initiative, the Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) was established in 2002 through a £6M EPSRC grant to support the Life Sciences Interface (LSI) Programme.
In due course, the DTC established an Industrial Liaison Committee with leading representatives from the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, biomedical and ICT industries. This industrial support allowed us to develop the industry-based Systems Approaches to Biomedical Sciences (SABS) Programme in 2009 funded by EPSRC and the MRC and in collaboration with 13 industrial partners. Underpinning the SABS programme was (and is) an open innovation concept that allowed directly competing companies to come together in a single, joint collaboration agreement that was then unique and that re-defined how industrial CDTs might function. This third programme was followed in 2011 by the BBSRC-funded Interdisciplinary Bioscience Doctoral Training Partnership, and in 2014 by three further programmes, the EPSRC/Industry funded Synthesis for Biology and Medicine, the EPSRC/BBSRC-funded Synthetic Biology, and the EPSRC/MRC-funded Biomedical Imaging Programmes.