11 December 2018

Challenge Fund boosts innovative life science projects

 

A project to explore the creation of the first canine cancer registry in Scotland has been awarded financial support through a new fund.

The Collaborative Campus Challenge Fund was launched in March by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to take forward new life sciences developments at Inverness Campus.

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) has received £15,000 to support its 12-month project. The organisation is working in collaboration with Oncology Referrals Ltd, Scottish Vet Referrals which is based at Inverness Campus, the University of the Highlands and Islands, and Bridge Pathology Ltd to conduct a feasibility study for the first canine cancer registry in Scotland.

Such a registry would be used to collect data to identify risk factors for different cancers and trends in cancer incidence, geographic distribution, and survival in companion animals and used to inform research and care.

Together, the team will develop a stakeholder network to encourage uptake of the concept by primary veterinary care providers.

The challenge fund is designed as an important first step to support collaborative projects between academic institutions and businesses. One of the key attractions for companies establishing their business at Inverness Campus is the opportunity to work closely with partners in academia and in the NHS.

Another organisation successful in receiving funding is The University of the Highlands and Islands which will take forward two collaborative projects – a wearable cardiac monitor and decontamination of surgical instruments. The projects are receiving additional support from the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal.

Dr Aaron Reeves, an epidemiologist at SRUC in Inverness, said: “Establishing a cancer registry for dogs in Scotland would provide an evidence base that could be used to improve care for animals with cancer and to inform canine cancer prevention. Companion animal cancer registries elsewhere in the world have been used to investigate factors that influence the health and wellbeing of animals and humans, by exploring common risk factors and in some cases identifying early warning signs that appear first in the animal population.

“HIE and the Collaborative Campus Challenge Fund have helped assemble a great team to explore options for creating and promoting a canine cancer registry for Scotland. This initiative draws on experience from vets, researchers, and businesses in the Highlands, and takes advantage of the scientific and technical expertise in data-driven population health research that we have developed at SRUC in Inverness. We anticipate that this project will be a starting point for further collaboration in this area with others on the Inverness Campus.”

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Karen Thomson, senior development manager at HIE for Inverness Campus, said: “Inverness Campus is a key part of the life science sector which is making a significant contribution to regional development across the Highlands and Islands. The Collaborative Campus Challenge Fund has developed into an important first step in funding shared projects which positively impact Inverness Campus.

“It is provided to projects which are led by education organisations and crucially which involve joint working with commercial partners with a view to supporting the concept of open innovation. It’s about companies and organisations exchanging and sharing new ideas and information for mutual benefit. Ultimately this will mean innovative solutions for medical and healthcare issues. We look forward to receiving more eligible proposals which can demonstrate that there is a positive impact on the Campus.”

The three projects which have been funded are part of the pilot period for this fund. HIE hopes to roll out further rounds of funding for the Collaborative Campus Challenge fund in 2019.

For further information visit invernesscampus.co.uk/collaboration or contact inverness.campus@hient.co.uk

To view STV coverage of this exciting project at Inverness Campus click http://player.stv.tv/episode/3q9u/stv-news-aberdeen/ and scroll to 16:40 - the features runs to 18:44.