Last week saw the launch of the Government's Industrial Strategy white paper, highlighting five key areas of focus for performance improvement in the UK and setting out a roadmap for UK business, to boost productivity and earning power. The paper commits to setting “Grand Challenges” to put the UK at the forefront of industries that will shape the future: artificial intelligence; clean growth; an ageing society; and future mobility, all of which to an extent impact upon the Life Sciences sector.

The paper identifies the industries that are of strategic value to our economy and sets out to create a partnership between government and industry to nurture them. Our Life Sciences industry is identified as one of six priority business sectors and highlighted as a world-leading industry (generating “£64 million of turnover and employing more than 233,000”), a statement supported by the fact that it is one of the first sectors to benefit from a Sector Deal (a partnership between government and industry building on strength and aimed at increasing sector productivity) and the additional £406 million investment to address the shortage of STEM skills.

The aim of the Life Sciences multi-billion pound sector deal is to ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of innovation in this sector. It involves substantial investment from private and charitable sectors, significant commitments in research and development from the government and builds on the Lifesciences Industrial Strategy published in August 2017, which Professor Sir John Bell led on behalf of the sector and to which the ABHI and ABPI had significant contribution. Focusses of the deal include:

  • Reinforcing the UK's science offering – examples are made of a recent £115 million investment by Novo Nordisk, MSD’s commitment to establish a state of the art discovery research facility in the UK which will create 950 jobs, and QIAGEN’s planned partnership with Health Innovation Manchester and expansion of its existing operations in Manchester which together have the potential to create 800 skilled jobs;
  • Health Advanced Research Programme – a shared endeavour aimed at finding solutions to the major healthcare challenges of the next 20 years whilst also creating new UK industries;
  • NHS Collaboration – a commitment to sustained close collaboration between the NHS and industry is identified as an invaluable feature of the UK life sciences landscape;
  • Manufacturing – growing life sciences manufacturing which already makes a significant contribution to the UK economy as a major source of exports; and
  • Data – supporting the use of data for research purposes within the relevant legal frameworks through the development of Digital Innovation Hubs led by NHS England, NHS Digital and Health Data Research UK.

Partnership is at the heart of the government’s approach with the paper committing the government to working with business, universities, research and civic society in order to take advantage of the available opportunities. The strategy sets out exciting opportunities for the sector through which all life science partners may work together to make the UK one of the best places in the world for discovering, developing and adopting new medical innovations.