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New national competitions will honour UK's bioscience innovators

Two new competitions are being launched today to honour the UK bioscientists who are best at turning world-class research into products, companies, services or advice that has an impact on our lives.

The competitions, which will culminate in awards being made at an annual, prestige gala dinner in London, are being organised by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The competitions recognise and reward the wide-ranging impact that the UK's world-beating bioscience research base has on UK society and its benefits to the national economy.

The Innovator of the Year Award is an annual competition that will award £10,000 in cash to the individual or research team that can demonstrate how they spotted and seized opportunities for harnessing the economic and social potential of their research. The first award will be made at a high profile gala awards dinner in London in March 2009. Another £10,000 worth of prize money is available for runners-up.

The Excellence with Impact Award will award top prizes worth a total of £300,000 to the bioscience departments that are embedding a culture that recognises the importance of deriving economic and social impact from excellent research. One award will go to the department that initiates the biggest culture change towards recognising the importance of embedding impact, hand-in-hand with excellent research. The other will go to the department that can best demonstrate the social and economic impact of its research. A further £50,000 worth of prizes will be available for runners-up. The competition will run over two years, with departments that enter now being judged by a panel of experts in 2011 when the Awards will be made.

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Ian Pearson, Minister for Science and Innovation, said: "The effective exploitation of the UK's world class science base ensures the economy and our society continues to derive maximum benefit from it. These two new awards will inspire bioscientists to achieve excellence in their field while also recognizing how their research positively impacts the UK."

Dr Peter Ringrose, Chairman of BBSRC, said: "We are expecting a large number of strong entries from the bioscience research community for both these new competitions. From tackling superbugs and exploring new drug targets to breeding higher yielding, disease-resistant crops to new animal vaccines, the outputs from UK bioscience generates millions of pounds worth of revenue each year - and billions more in terms of policy advice, savings and the well being of individuals.

"UK bioscience is recognised as being world-class, but sometimes there are fewer acknowledgements for scientists' efforts to turn their excellent science into something that makes an impact on our everyday lives. These awards will give recognition and tangible reward to those scientists and institutions contributing to the impact of bioscience on the British people's quality of life."

The closing date for completed entries for Innovator of the Year 2009 and for expressions of interest from departments wishing to take part in the Excellence with Impact Award is 17 December 2008.

Matt Goode | alfa
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Further reports about: BBSRC Biotechnology Merit Award

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