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80 research charities benefit from £20m Covid support fund

Government package will support 450 early career researchers funded by UK medical research charities

A £20 million fund for supporting early career researchers funded by medical research charities negatively affected by the pandemic has been allocated to 80 charities.

The Association of Medical Research Charities, which has been campaigning for government support for charities whose finances were undercut by the pandemic, announced the news on 17 December.

The Medical Research Charities Covid Support Fund, which will be administered by UK Research and Innovation, will provide funding for 450 researchers for one year.

Nicola Perrin, chief executive of the AMRC, called the news “a very welcome early Christmas present” that would make a big difference to the organisation’s members, research teams and patients.

Appeal for fund extension

But Perrin added that “demand for the scheme way outstripped supply” and called on the government to use its R&D budget to continue the scheme for a further three years—the timeframe over which charities are expecting their finances to recover from the pandemic.

In 2020, the AMRC called for financial support of over £300m to plug the gap in the finances of its members, whose funding dropped from £1.89bn to £1.74bn between 2019 and 2020. In May this year, the business department announced it would be providing £15m alongside £5m from the health department for early career researchers funded by charities.

Lynn Dunne, chief executive of Bowel Research UK, said the funding would allow the charity to open up new opportunities next year, and that it was “much needed support after two years of disruption and uncertainty”.