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UK budget 2012: Industry welcomes £600m for science research

Chancellor also makes new cut in corporation tax and plans next steps to support life sciences

UK Chancellor George Osborne announced an extra £600m in government funding to improve the infrastructure of scientific research during his autumn budget statement.

This support is part of a total £5.5bn infrastructure package for UK business that the government said will help the UK compete with emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil.

This extra science funding will “support the development of innovative technologies and strengthen the UK's competitive advantage in areas such as big data and energy efficient computing, synthetic biology and advanced materials”, the government said.

The investment was welcomed by the UK's life sciences industry, with both the BioIndustry Association (BIA) and Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) saying they were satisfied with the decision.

"It is good news that the government has recognised the public's desire to invest in high-growth, innovative businesses,” said Steve Bates, CEO of UK biotech body the BIA.

Meanwhile, CEO of pharma association the ABPI Stephen Whitehead gave a more qualified response, saying he was “pleased” with the announcement, but that the government should also invest more in the commercial environment that UK companies operate in.

“Our share of global clinical trials has fallen from six per cent in 2000 to just 1.4 per cent now, whilst NHS spending on the newest medicines is set to shrink as a proportion of healthcare spending over the next three years,” he said.

“Such barriers mean companies do not know if their newly developed medicines will ever be used in the NHS. This doubt inevitably causes companies to think twice about investing in the UK.“

Other key points in the budget for life sciences companies included the announcement that corporation tax will be cut by an extra one per cent from April 2014, meaning it will now come to 21 per cent rather than the originally planned 22 per cent announced in the spring 2012 budget.

The BIA's Bates said: "The cut in corporation tax should maintain the UK's position as the leading destination in Europe for inward investment and help ensure that the major pharmaceutical companies that play a crucial role in the life sciences ecosystem maintain a presence in the UK."

In addition, Osborne said Prime Minister David Cameron will launch the Life Sciences Strategy One Year On document later this month.

This report will set out progress so far since the Strategy was launched last year, as well as the next steps to support the sector in the UK.

6th December 2012

From: Research

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