The Daily Telegraph

Ex-google chief in talks to put $20m in Britain’s gene bank

- By Matthew Field

FORMER Google chief executive Eric Schmidt is in talks to donate millions of pounds to a UK project analysing the DNA of hundreds of thousands of people, as part of a Government push to boost Britain’s science sector.

Mr Schmidt, who was chief executive of Google for a decade, and his wife, Wendy, have held talks with the Government about investing up to $20m (£16m) in British scientific research, which could include funding the Stockport-based UK Biobank.

Launched in 2006, the Biobank has collected DNA samples from 500,000 volunteers as part of research into genetics and diseases. Alongside the samples, which are stored at sub-zero temperatur­es, scientists have collected health and lifestyle informatio­n to aid research into what factors influence diseases.

Participan­ts in the project, which has also received funding from Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, are tracked over the course of 30 years, providing scientists with vital data on how their lifestyle and health match up to their genetic profile.

The funding talks were revealed as part of a £360m package announced by Michelle Donelan, the Technology Secretary, and Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, to boost Britain’s science and technology industries.

The Government said it will invest up to £50m in research projects such as the Biobank alongside co-investment from philanthro­pists such as Mr Schmidt, who is worth $19.9bn according to Bloomberg.

Mr Sunak also confirmed the UK would again extend a funding guarantee for scientists who had applied for the EU’S Horizon R&D scheme.

The Government has also earmarked £250m for funding artificial intelligen­ce, quantum computing and bio engineerin­g projects. Investment will be overseen by the new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.

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