Industry proposals to help the UK’s life sciences sector become an international benchmark for success were unveiled by Professor Sir John Bell during a speech at the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Translational Medicine on 30 August 2017.
Attended by Business Secretary Greg Clark and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Sir John Bell outlined the industry’s vision for how government can work alongside the sector to boost businesses large and small across the £64 billion life sciences sector.
In the government’s Industrial Strategy green paper, launched in January, life sciences was one of five of the UK’s leading sectors tasked with working with stakeholders across the industry to identify opportunities for how government can support the industry.
The industry-led Life Sciences Industrial Strategy follows Sir John Bell’s comprehensive cross-sector review into the long-term future of the industry and brings together input and recommendations from a broad range of stakeholders, including global companies such as AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson, MSD, GSK and healthcare groups, SMEs and charities.
The report’s recommendations will be considered carefully by the government and used to work towards a sector deal between government and the global life sciences sector.
Sir John Bell said:
The vision for the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy is an ambitious one and sets out proposals for how the UK can continue to capitalise on its strengths in the sector, both to encourage economic growth and to improve health outcomes for patients.
We have created a strategy which capitalises on our strong science base to further build the industry into a globally-unique and internationally competitive life sciences eco-system, supported by collaboration across industry, government, the NHS, academia, and research funders to deliver health and wealth.
I look forward to working with government to consider the strategy’s recommendations, including those that can be taken forward as part of an ambitious sector deal.
From a cross-section of industry and trade association members of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy Board:
We welcome the publication of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, led by Sir John Bell. The Strategy and Board demonstrate the breadth and vibrancy of the life sciences ecosystem in the UK, the importance of collaboration across the sector, the critical role of the NHS in delivering the development and use of new medical technologies, and the contribution of our sector to the UK economy.
The Strategy provides a holistic and collaborative framework to realise the many exciting opportunities in the future of life sciences in the UK and is a positive first step to cementing the success of our sector.
This should provide the springboard for any sector deal for the life sciences sector, including the NHS and other stakeholders; this will be vital to ensuring that the recommendations set out in this Strategy are fully implemented.
As the UK leaves the EU, collaboration with, and support from government is more important than ever to maintaining the UK’s position as a global life sciences ecosystem.
The Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, a report to the government from the life sciences sector, is organised under 5 key themes – science, growth, NHS, data, and skills – with proposals to build on the UK’s strengths in each area. These include:
- Science – Reinforcing the UK science offer by sustaining and increasing funding for basic science to match our international competition and by further improving UK clinical trial capabilities
- Growth – Improving growth and infrastructure across the country, through a tax environment that supports growth and by attracting substantial investment to manufacture and export high value life science products of the future
- NHS – Encouraging NHS collaboration by recommending the Accelerated Access Review be adopted with national routes to market streamlined and clarified, including for digital products
- Data – Making better use of data and other evidence by establishing 2 to 5 regional innovation hubs that would provide data across regions of 3 to 5 million people.
- Skills – Ensuring the UK has the talent and skills to underpin future life sciences success by delivering a reinforced skills action plan across the NHS, commercial and third sectors
The Strategy also recommends the establishment of the Healthcare Advanced Research Program (HARP), a programme through which industries, charities and the NHS can collaborate on ambitious and long-term UK-based projects to transform healthcare and take advantage of the medical trends of the next 20 years.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:
The UK has always been at the forefront of scientific excellence. From the discovery of antibiotics to our world-leading 100,000 Genomes project, we have a proud history of medical breakthrough and innovation.
I want patients to continue to be at the front of the queue for the best treatments available, whether that means early access to trials, giving staff brand new innovations and technology to work with, or being at the heart of research to share best practice quickly across the health and social care system. A strong and growing life sciences sector ensures this, particularly as we negotiate our exit from the EU.
In welcoming the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, the Health Secretary is also announcing £14 million funding to support 11 medical technology research centres to encourage collaboration between the NHS and industry in developing and bringing new technologies to patients through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). This will mean patients will continue to benefit from new technologies which will help to improve diagnosis and get them the treatment they need quickly.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said:
The life sciences sector is of critical importance to the UK economy and UK health – with over 5,000 companies, nearly 235,000 employees and a turnover of £64 billion in 2016 – and the government is committed to continuing to help this sector go from strength to strength.
The Life Sciences Industrial Strategy demonstrates the world-class expertise the UK already has in this sector and represents the industry’s vision for how we can build on our world-leading reputation in this field.
We will be engaging with Sir John Bell in the coming months in an effort to work towards a sector deal that helps us seize the opportunities in this area.
Chief Executive of Innovate UK, Dr Ruth McKernan, added:
I know from my own experience that the UK is a world leader in life sciences. These new proposals underline our strength and will keep the nation at the cutting edge. At Innovate UK, we look forward to playing a key role in its delivery.
Working with the research community and exciting companies, with equally exciting ideas, we will drive innovation to create new jobs and deliver greater productivity.
At the launch of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, the Business Secretary reiterated government’s commitment to the sector, announcing the first phase of the government’s investment in life sciences through the Industrial Strategy, with £146 million for leading-edge healthcare, which is expected to leverage more than £250 million of private funding from industry.
This investment, part of the government’s flagship Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, will be spread over 4 years and covers 5 major projects supporting advanced therapies, advanced medicines and vaccines development and manufacturing. These projects are:
- Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre: A £13 million competition to establish a new centre, in partnership with industry, that will accelerate the adoption of emerging and novel manufacturing technologies
- Vaccines Development and Manufacturing Centre: To develop and manufacture vaccines for clinical trials and prepare for emergency epidemic threats, government is investing £66 million in a new centre of excellence
- Advanced Therapies Treatment Centre £30 million investment in 3 new sites will help establish a network of centres, based in hospitals, that will transform the UK’s ability to develop and deliver cell and gene therapies to a large number of patients
- Expanding the Cell and Gene Therapy Manufacturing Centre: Enhancing the UK’s offer in the fast-moving field of cell and gene therapy by investing £12 million in doubling the capacity of the Cell and Gene Therapy Centre in Stevenage
- Research and Development to support innovation at the manufacturing centres: Through a new collaborative scheme, the government is investing £25 million to support SMEs working in this sector and boost innovation
Government has increased investment in research and development over the next 4 years by £4.7 billion to create jobs and raise living standards through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The Business Secretary has announced that the first £1 billion of investment is being made in 6 key areas in 2017 to 2018, driving progress and innovation that will create opportunities for businesses and sectors across the UK.