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Norway Will Spend $70M to Spur Functional Genomics Research; Start-Ups Particularly Welcome

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — The Norwegian government plans to pump $70 million into a functional genomics initiative aimed at pushing industry-driven research and technology projects.
The Norwegian Functional Genomics Program said the new funding will support its phase II initiatives, which will run between 2007 and 2011.
The group said in its first phase it supported 22 companies on 24 projects. Among these companies were the pharmacogenomics specialist Diagenic and Affitech, which focuses on therapeutic antibodies.
Now, the group, known as FUGE, wants to emphasize “refining and exploiting the technology platforms” it funded in its first phase. 
Program coordinator Steinar Bergseth said the group already has in place the infrastructure to “serve and stimulate both researcher and industry” for projects. The group said it expects to spend less than half of the $70 million to maintain this infrastructure.
The infrastructure includes biobanks, bioinformatics, transgenic mice, proteomics technologies, molecular imaging tools, microarrays, structural biology and sequencing/SNP technology.
Because start-up capital is not readily available in Norway FUGE said it expects to use “a substantial part of the remaining budget” to back “industry-originated projects.”
FUGE added that funding it gives to start-up companies acts as a “seal of approval” for other potential investors.
Meantime, more mature companies can use the funding to perform local research projects in Norway at less expense.
The group said that all companies dealing with functional genomics can apply for FUGE’s phase II funding, but added that it will give priority to “smaller and newly established companies rather than larger established companies.”

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