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Wellcome to increase charitable spending to £16bn over next decade

Melanie May | 17 January 2022 | News

A female scientist looks into a microscope

Wellcome has announced its biggest funding commitment to science and health in its 85-year history, following its strongest investment returns in 25 years.

Wellcome is planning to raise its charitable spending to £16 billion over the next decade, with its investment portfolio now worth £38.2 billion, it announced last week with the release of its 20-21 annual results.

It has also committed an extra £750 million to fund large-scale, high-impact activities across five years, which it anticipates will grow to £1 billion next year. 

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Its aim is to scale up in a deliberate and sustainable way to ensure it can consistently fund research to improve health in all economic climates. 

The funding is in line with Wellcome’s new strategy, which focuses on the three worldwide health challenges of mental health, infectious disease, and the health impacts of climate change. More information on its funding schemes can be found here. This is underpinned by a broad programme of discovery research.

The past year has also seen Wellcome increase its global policy and advocacy capacity, which has included expanding its European presence, through its Europe Office in Berlin. 

As part of its new direction, Wellcome will seek to support cross-sector collaborations like the public-private Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which it co-founded in 2017, and which has supported Covid-19 vaccine development and equity.  

It has made a £150 million commitment to the Covid-19 pandemic, through which it has supported genomics researchers in keeping up with the virus. According to Wellcome, Wellcome Sanger Institute was at one point responsible for half of the world’s Covid-19 sequencing, while its funding of genomics research in East Africa generated the first Covid-19 data in places like South Sudan and Burundi. 

Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome said:

“These returns mark a step-change in Wellcome’s ability to fund and support new discoveries in science and health, and help solve three of the great challenges of the 21st century – climate change, infectious diseases and mental health. With plans to spend £16 billion on our mission over the next decade, we will be increasing our spending from the previous decade by more than 50%. This gives us a huge opportunity to increase our support for scientific research that will make a real difference to people everywhere in the years to come.”

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