The Wellcome Trust, Britain’s largest charity, is increasing spending on scientific research to £ 16bn over the next 10 years, with a focus on financing next-generation Covid-19 vaccines, after obtaining the highest investment returns in a quarter of a century. .
Wellcome said it was making its biggest funding commitment to science and health in its 85-year history. It was created at the will of the pharmaceutical entrepreneur Sir Henry Wellcome in 1936. The £ 16 billion promise comes after he spent more than £ 9 billion on research grants and other charitable activities over the past decade, including £ 1.2 billion last year alone.
The trust returned 34.5% for the year to September 30 on its investment portfolio, which is now worth £ 38.2 billion, about £ 10 billion more than a year ago. This is its best performance since it was created in its current form as an independent charitable foundation in 1995, when Wellcome plc was sold to drugmaker Glaxo, which later became GlaxoSmithKline.
One of Wellcome’s top investment options was DoorDash, a US-based food delivery business, which has doubled in price since its IPO in December.
Sir Jeremy Farrar, a Wellcome director and a former member of the government’s Sage advisory committee, said these investment returns marked “a sea 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 XXI century: climate change, infectious diseases and mental health ”.
“With plans to spend £ 16 billion on our mission over the next decade, we will increase our spending over the previous decade by more than 50%,” he added.
He said some of this would go to fund second- and third-generation Covid-19 vaccines as part of Wellcome’s infectious disease program, as the virus becomes endemic.
The trust’s annual report showed that payment packages increased on its investment team after record returns. Nick Moakes, chief investment officer, received £ 7.9 million last year, while Peter Pereira Gray, chief executive of the investment division, received a £ 7.8 million package. The packages include long-term bonuses that have not yet been paid. The year before, they received £ 4.6 million and £ 4.5 million respectively.
Wellcome said the payment packages were considerably less than what an outside firm of investment managers would pay.
By comparison, Farrar was paid £ 515,216 last year, up from £ 483,788 in 2020. The executive leadership team received £ 2.5 million in pay, down from the £ 3.1 million figure in 2020. .
Wellcome said it would spend more on cross-sector collaborations such as the Public-Private Coalition for Outbreak Preparedness (CEPI), co-founded by Wellcome in 2017, which has brought together various parties to develop and fairly distribute covid-19 vaccines. Wellcome also helped fund the Covid vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca.
As part of its £ 150 million pledge to fight the pandemic, the charity has supported genomics researchers to keep up with the virus. The Wellcome Sanger Institute was at one time responsible for half of the world’s Covid-19 sequencing.
Julia Gillard, President of the Wellcome Trust, said: “The exceptional long-term performance of the investment portfolio has provided us with the means to significantly increase spending commitments at a time when mission has never been more important.”
While Wellcome had spectacular returns on some investments, Syncona, a UK-listed life sciences company founded by the trust in 2012, had a very disappointing year, with its share price falling by almost a third. .
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism