CHANCELLOR Philip Hammond has delivered a second funding boost for Alderley Park in the space of a week.

The Medicines Discovery Catapult, which provides technical expertise and resources to biotechnology firms across the UK, is set to benefit from a £115 million pot announced on Tuesday to support the country’s ‘catapult’ centres.

And it comes just a week after Greg Clarke, business secretary, confirmed an investment of £55 million into the Alderley Park site.

It represents a major boost for the former AstraZeneca site after the pharmaceutical giant moved out of Alderley Park five years ago.

Chris Molloy, chief executive at The Catapult, said: “This significant investment, along with our industry-led funding, is a vote of confidence in our work and vision.

“It also reflects national support for the UK’s unique Catapult network.

“At Medicines Discovery Catapult we have our eyes firmly fixed on deploying new approaches that will enable growth of our bio-economy, and maintain the UK’s heritage position as a global leader in medicines research and development.”

Catapult centres are not-for-profit sites which connect businesses to research.

The £115 million announced by Mr Hammond will be used to develop artificial intelligence and data science.

Alderley Park’s Catapult will research the use of artificial intelligence in medicine – and it is hoped this work will lead to breakthroughs in the understanding of complex diseases and the discovery of new drugs.

Professor John Overington, chief informatics officer at Medicines Discovery Catapult, said: “The UK is a major global hub for artificial intelligence research and data science, supported by a world-class drug discovery industry, academic sector and integrated healthcare system.

“Artificial intelligence in drug discovery is therefore an area where the UK can genuinely compete globally and the large investments under way in the USA and China, also underline the importance of coordinated national action.”

With an ageing population, the treatment of chronic health conditions accounts for 70 per cent of spending on health and social care in England – and it is hoped that medical advances made at the Alderley Park Catapult could improve healthcare.

Cllr Rachel Bailey, leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “This funding for the Medicines Discovery Catapult is great news for Tatton, Cheshire East and the whole north west, attracting highly skilled workers to the region and ensuring economic growth for the future.”