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Life sciences to play key role in UK’s post-Brexit strategy

Prime minister unveils plans to boost jobs, growth and commercialise country’s science base

UKThe UK has set out its post-Brexit industry strategy and life sciences and the country's other research-based industries are to play a key role in driving business growth both at home and abroad.

In a Green Paper published today, prime minister Theresa May and business and energy secretary Greg Clark outline 'investing in science, research and innovation' as the first of 10 strategic pillars designed to support the government's new 'sector deals' model.

May said the model will see the government “not just stepping back but stepping up to a new, active role”, offering a range of support for tackling industry-specific issues, with “addressing regulatory barriers to innovation and growth” a clear priority.

Increased and more innovative commercialisation of the UK's science base has also been marked as a 'must', and the government plans to aid this through the newly-created Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, part of the £4.7bn R&D funding announced last November.

Building on existing R&D frameworks, the Challenge Fund aims to encourage individual pharma and biotech companies to drive productivity in the sector, with the government smoothing the way for increased partnership opportunities for the creation of innovative technologies.

Responding to the proposals, the UK's pharma trade body the ABPI said it was 'pleased to see that the government has once again prioritised science and innovation'.

Chief executive Mike Thompson said: “A successful industrial strategy will help deliver a strong pharmaceutical industry for the UK economy and improve healthcare for patients. Our sector is worth £60bn a year to our economy, employing more than 220,000 highly skilled people across the UK.

“If we play to our strengths, we can go even further and create one of the world's pre-eminent hubs for life sciences research and investment.”

As part of the new strategy, the government has committed £556m for the Northern Powerhouse initiative, which aims to drive business growth across the north of the UK, of which £10m has been designated for the Greater Manchester and Chester Life Sciences Fund.

The financial support is to be used to help power innovative young life science firms in the area, providing small- and medium-sized companies with a jump-start in their development of new treatments, therapies and medical products.

Meanwhile, another of the report's 10 strategic pillars marks investing in the next generation of life science leaders a key priority, with the government pledging to boost science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) capability in young people to “ensure everyone has the basic skills needed in a modern economy”.

Clark said: “This is an important step in building a modern, dynamic industrial strategy that will improve living standards and drive economic growth across the whole country.

“We are inviting businesses and workers to contribute to this vision to help us create a high-skilled economy where every place can meet its potential.”

Article by
Rebecca Clifford

23rd January 2017

From: Research, Healthcare

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