A report laying out the life sciences sector’s vision of how the UK might exploit its existing strength to increase the pace of economic growth in the sector in the wake of Brexit was published at the end of August with almost universal acclaim from the industry.
The “Life sciences: industrial strategy” report sets out the life sciences sector’s recommendations to the UK government on the long term success of the sector across a number of key themes:
- Creating a Health Advanced Research Programme (HARP) to deliver solutions to future healthcare challenges in areas such as genomics in medicine, developing diagnostics for early asymptomatic chronic disease, digitalisation and AI in pathology and imaging, and projects around healthy ageing.
- Reinforcing the UK science offer by sustaining and increasing funding for basic science to match the UK’s international competitors, particularly in university settings, and by further improving the speed and efficiency of UK clinical trial capabilities.
- Encouraging growth and infrastructure to make the UK the best place for life sciences businesses by ensuring the tax environment supports growth, supporting the growth of life sciences clusters and networks, and attracting investment to manufacture and export high value life science products.
- Collaboration between the NHS and industry, including by building on the Accelerated Access Review to encourage UK investment in clinical and real-world studies, and to streamline the processes and methods of assessment for each new innovation, including for digital products.
- Making the best use of data and digital tools to support research and better patient care, including by establishing two to five Digital Innovation Hubs which provide data across regions of three to five million people to rapidly enable researchers to engage with a meaningful dataset.
- Ensuring access to talent and skills by establishing a migration system which allows recruitment and retention of highly skilled workers, in addition to developing and delivering a reinforced skills action plan across the NHS, commercial and academic sectors based on a gap analysis of key skills.
The report also briefly comments on the future of regulation in the life sciences. As the UK’s future relationship with the EMA is being worked out, the report calls for the focus to be on alignment in order to deliver the best decision-making for patient safety and the best ecosystem for UK life sciences.
The report’s ambitious vision is to build the UK life sciences industry into a global hub that makes the UK the home of clinical research and medical innovation. It is hoped that this “globally-unique and internationally competitive life sciences ecosystem” might be achieved through a joint programme of delivery between industry, the NHS, and the Government, which together will monitor and oversee its implementation.