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UK life sciences sector brings record growth as new Life Sciences Council meets for first time

Wednesday May 16th, 2018

The inaugural meeting of the new UK Life Sciences Council takes place today (Tuesday 16 May 2018). Business Secretary Greg Clark and Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt will chair the Council, which will also be attended by a range of industry experts, including Pascal Soriot from AstraZenca who will co-chair, J&J, MSD and ABPI. The main objective of the Council is to ensure the UK continues to be a global leader in life sciences.Government Opportunities

This comes as new research published today shows the UK continues to have one of the most productive health and life sciences sectors in the world. Health and life sciences are worth over £70 billion to the economy and provide jobs for almost 241,000 people across the country. The group will focus on progress in delivering the modern Industrial Strategy’s Life Sciences Sector Deal, launched in 2017, which will support the sector to develop and launch the next generation of medicines, technologies and diagnostics and provide better care and treatments for millions of patients.

The fourth annual Life Science Competitiveness Indicators report  also shows that the UK continues to attract significant private equity investment, with over £660 million invested in 67 UK projects in 2016. The UK also accounts for 12% of total life sciences academic citations and 18% of the most-cited publications, the 2nd highest share above China, Germany and Canada.

As part of the Life Sciences Sector Deal, which brought together significant commitments and investments into the UK by 25 global organisations from across the sector, the government has worked closely with industry to deliver its strategic vision and in the last 6 months has launched major projects, including:

  • allocating £30 million from a £100 million study to sequence the UK Biobank, providing a unique resource to identify new drug therapies and redefine the gold standard for genome sequencing
  • announcing the world’s first study to establish centres of excellence in digital pathology and medical imaging in the NHS, which when set up will, using the digital images generated, help develop artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms for more accurate diagnosis of diseases, potentially improving NHS efficiencies
  • in the process of creating up to 5 Digital Innovation Hubs across the UK, which will support the development of algorithms and machine learning for real-world studies and clinical trials. Being delivered by Professor Andrew Morris, Director of Health Data Research UK (HDRUK), the Hubs will enhance the UK’s global competitiveness in clinical trials and creating a unique business environment
  • investing £65 million through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to establish three advanced therapy treatment centres across the country, which will support medicine manufacturing and provide industry with access to cutting-edge technology to commercialise and develop innovations at scale

The modern Industrial Strategy sets out a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK. It sets out how we are building a Britain fit for the future – how we will help businesses create better, higher-paying jobs in every part of the UK with investment in skills, industries and infrastructure.

The Industrial Strategy committed to increased government investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027 and 3% over the longer term – delivering an estimated increase of £80 billion over the next 10 years. The Life Sciences Sector Deal set out plans for the Health Research Authority to speed up approvals for clinical trials.

Prime Minister Theresa May said:

“I welcome the first meeting of the new Life Sciences Council today, which will drive research, development and innovation in this thriving sector far into the future. Further advancing the UK’s global leadership in life sciences is a key part of our modern Industrial Strategy – our plan for high-quality jobs and growth across the whole country.”

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