Innovating for the city

Published on 14 July 2023

The University’s new Centre for Targeted Protein Degradation (CeTPD) is not only raising hopes of treating diseases previously thought to be undruggable but is also part of a range of developments helping to transform the city of Dundee.

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Scientific entrepreneurship helps underpin the Centre’s mission, aligning with the University’s ambitions of commercialising world-class research to power the city’s regeneration.

“Targeted protein degradation is one of the most exciting areas of scientific study to have emerged in many years,” said CeTPD Director Professor Alessio Ciulli on the process which uses the cell’s natural disposal systems to remove diseased proteins. “We are one of a handful of institutions leading the world in this field and our new home will provide opportunities to capitalise on our expertise, accelerate innovation and attract further investment from major partners in the pharmaceutical industry.”

The £24 million CeTPD, situated just to the north of the campus, was made possible through extensive support from industrial partners Eisai Ltd and Boehringer Ingelheim, as well as other funders including The Northwood Charitable Trust, Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust and Leng Charitable Trust. The CeTPD is unique in Europe and continued support from investors and funders will help the Centre save lives, create exciting jobs and launch globally leading careers.An economic impact assessment published last year demonstrated the importance of the University to our city.

The report found that the University supported £449 million Gross Value Added (GVA) and 6,760 jobs in Dundee, and £1.5 billion GVA and 15,090 jobs in the UK, returning £10 of value for every £1 invested by the Scottish Government. One in every 12 jobs in Dundee is supported by the University’s activities, and it is crucial that anchor institutions continue to grow the opportunities for people to live, study and work here.

A major step forward in this regard took place in March when work began on the Innovation Hub site, where world-class scientific innovation and entrepreneurial expertise will drive high-growth company formation. The Hub, adjacent to the CeTPD, was partly funded by the Scottish Government through the Tay Cities Deal. It is one of three main elements of the Growing the Tay Cities Biomedical Cluster project that will build on the University’s expertise in life sciences and medical innovation. Significant additional support was provided by the Wolfson Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation and the University itself.

The Hub will fill a critical gap – the ability to house new high-growth spinout companies generated from the region’s burgeoning research activity. New companies will be powered by inward investment and supported through their high-growth phase to ensure they remain in Dundee, creating much-needed high-value jobs. The development comes at a time when University of Dundee spinout activity is at a record level. Dundee was named as one of the best Higher Education institutions in the UK for producing successful companies in the most recent University Spinout Report, noting that it spawned 1.5% of all the UK’s spinouts over the past two decades.

“Growing recognition of our success in commercialising research will help inspire budding academic entrepreneurs,” said Anne Muir, Deputy Director of Research and Innovation Services at the University. “We have several high-growth spinouts making real strides commercially and our pipeline has never been stronger.”

“Targeted protein degradation is one of the most exciting areas of scientific study to have emerged in many years.”

Alessio Ciulli CeTPD Director

To the future

The Tay Cities Deal will also enable the transformation of Wilson House near Ninewells Hospital into an innovative and collaborative environment where students, staff, clinicians, designers, engineers and data scientists can develop disruptive technologies for the healthcare industry. An expansion of the Thiel Cadaver Facility at the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) to meet growing industrial demand for device testing and development is the final element of the project.

An independent economic assessment predicts that 280 new biomedical jobs will be created by 2033, rising to 800 jobs and over £190 million benefit to the local economy by 2053.

Professor Sir Mike Ferguson, co-lead of the Biomedical Cluster project, believes its impact will be felt across the globe. “Companies and collaborations formed in Dundee will influence the future of healthcare by developing new drugs, treatments and medical innovations,” he said. “The time is right for us to convert our pre-eminence in research into tangible socio-economic benefit for the region, as well as health benefits for the world.”

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