University Executive Board minutes - 17 August 2020
17 August 2020
Professor K Lamberts (KL) (in the Chair)
Professor S Fitzmaurice (SF), Ms H Fraser-Krauss (HFK); Professor S Hartley (SH), Professor M J Hounslow (MJH), Mrs P Jackson (PJ) (standing in for Professor J Derrick); Ms J Jones (JJ), Professor W Morgan (WM), Professor C Newman (CN), Mr R Sykes (RS), Professor G Valentine (GV), Professor C Watkins (CW)
Mr I Wright (IW); Dr T Strike (TS); Mr R Gower (RG) (via video link)
Professor J Derrick (JD); Professor D Petley (DP)
Mr N Button (NB) / Dr E Smith (ES) (via video link)
Capital Approval: Gene Therapy Hub
- UEB considered a proposal to support a bid to the Medical Research Council (MRC) for a Gene Therapy Innovation and Manufacturing Centre. It was expected that one of three Centres would be in the North of England, with competition from Manchester, Leeds and/or Newcastle. Attention was drawn to the significant funding gap that still existed in financing this project, the timescale that the MRC hoped that a Centre could be delivered in, and the potential benefits of such a project to the University, to Sheffield, and to the wider region. Moving forward with the bid had previously been approved by CRAG and VCAG, with members of ECSG approving in principle.
- During discussion, UEB noted the following:
- The key benefits of this project would come in the form of improved manufacturing techniques, as well as education opportunities through postgraduate programmes. It would also bring significant reputational benefits.
- Income generation was likely given that the MRC would act as a broker in the business generated, and would direct it to each of the three Centres.
- Given the period of uncertainty within the higher education sector, the University could reserve the right to refuse the contract if it won the bid but found that its financial situation did not allow it to proceed.
- Although mindful of the risks involved, in particular around the potential for costs to exceed the request, UEB gave conditional approval to the bid and recommended its consideration at Finance Committee and Council. It proposed to use the intervening period between submitting the bid and receiving the outcome to work on funding sources to supplement the current gap.
- Further consideration would be given as to how to minimise the financial risk to the University and the investment required ahead of any successful bid that could not be recouped if the bid was unsuccessful. This could potentially include underwriting the investment with funds from the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Health.
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