Britain’s life sciences given multi-mln dollar gov’t boost

Funding for the £64bn a year life sciences industry in the United Kingdom should match the spending of other countries, while ensuring access to skills and talent in the sector should be priorities, experts say.

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.

“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”, said Bell.

Mike Thompson, chief executive of the ABPI, said: We look forward to working with Government and other partners to implement these recommendations – including through a sector deal with the bio-pharmaceutical industry and a voluntary agreement on United Kingdom medicines policy between industry and the Department of Health.

UK BioIndustry Association (BIA) CEO and Life Sciences Industrial Strategy Board member Steve Bates said: “It is fantastic to see the publication of a life sciences industrial strategy that can act as a springboard to an early sector deal for the life sciences industry”.

Proposals cover five key areas – science, growth, NHS, data, and skills – and include sustaining and increasing funding for basic science, improved infrastructure, encouraging NHS collaboration, making better use of data and a skills action plan across the NHS, commercial and third sectors. The BIA has long called for a revived industrial strategy to maintain and build investment into the United Kingdom and grow and scale the UK’s innovative bioscience companies.

Clark, who also spoke at the launch, said “The life sciences sector is of critical importance to the United Kingdom economy and United Kingdom health with over 5,000 companies, almost 235,000 employees, and a turnover of 64 billion pounds in 2016″.

British business secretary Greg Clark will give details of how 188 million dollars of previously announced funding, spread over four years, will support priorities including advanced therapies and medicines, vaccines development, and manufacturing. The Strategy “is an impressive document which captures the importance of our sector to a successful post-Brexit Britain”. The industry, identified by May’s administration as one of five that are vital to the economy, includes more than 5,000 companies and employs nearly 235,000 people.

“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”. “These measures will provide confidence for global companies to invest in the United Kingdom during and beyond Brexit”.

Sir Robert Lechler, president of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said “Importantly, the strategy highlights the potential of the NHS, which we are not now capitalising on”.

GlaxoSmithKline, Britain’s largest life sciences company, said a stronger and deeper level of collaboration between industry, government, the NHS and academia would make Britain a more attractive place for drugmakers.

The government will respond formally to the proposals in its life sciences sector deal, expected later in the year.

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