Belfast Telegraph

Randox awarded £100k to fund kidney care research

By Clare Weir

Antrim firm Randox Laboratories Ltd has been awarded £100,000 from the government to fund life-saving research into kidney transplant care.

The medical testing firm was awarded the bursary after winning a national competition funded by the Department of Health through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI).

Meanwhile Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, of which the SBRI is a part, will visit the Randox factory today as part of a two-day visit to Northern Ireland, when he will also visit the Northern Ireland Science Park and the Queen's Cancer Centre.

Mr Gray said that Randox was a great example of the technology companies in Northern Ireland which were competing and winning funding from SBRI.

"We are keen to see many more companies following Randox's lead, looking at the opportunities available and working with the Technology Strategy Board to take their innovative ideas and cutting-edge technologies into global markets," he said.

The research is being carried out by Randox in partnership with St James's University Hospital in Leeds.

Randox hopes that when complete, the research will revolutionise how patients are treated in renal units across the UK.

Dr Peter Fitzgerald, managing director of Randox Laboratories, said the funding would be used to create technology to improve the lives of transplant patients: "Although end stage renal failure affects only 0.05% of the general population, it commands between £1-2bn a year of the entire annual NHS budget," he said.

"We know that loss of kidney function is devastating and hope that our innovation could identify those at risk.

"The fact that we have been awarded this funding is testament to the UK government's confidence in Randox's unique technology, our innovation and our commitment to improving health and we welcome Iain Gray and representatives from the TSB to our headquarters to discuss future opportunities."

Randox beat competition from around the UK to scoop the prize.

The awards scheme was run by the NIHR Devices for Dignity Healthcare Technology Co-operative.

Lord Howe, a Department of Health minister, said that innovations by companies like Randox were essential for improving treatments and finding new cures.

"I am delighted that the NIHR Devices for Dignity HTCC is awarding these contracts to help develop technologies that can make a difference to patients suffering with kidney disease," he said.

"This will also build on Britain's reputation as a world leader in science, research and development.

"I look forward to learning more about the progress and success of this initiative now that the winners have been announced," he added.

Last year, The Economy And Jobs Initiative Task And Finish Group document said in a report that the health and social care (HSC) sector spent almost £4.5bn annually, provided for 9% of the workforce and generated almost 10% of total economic output in Northern Ireland.

The group, made up of figures from the business and medical worlds, including Dave Whitlinger of eHealth Collaborative in New York, recommended the introduction of a new 'health and life sciences strategy' here to increase levels of innovation and commercialisation of medical products and tec hnology.

Belfast Telegraph