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UK Budget welcomed by life science industry

New measures include a £20m health funding boost for the north of England

George Osborne Budget  

The final UK Budget before May's General Election has taken the needs of life sciences into account by announcing better support for science in the north of the country and more funding for research-based degrees.

The government has also announced it will review the Entrepreneur's Relief (ER) scheme, something that could boost the UK landscape for spin-out pharma companies, by reducing tax burdens on new start-ups and fledging biotech firms.

The ABPI, which represents the majority of R&D-led pharma firms in the UK, had called for such a review earlier this year. 

The group's director of government and external affairs Audrey Yvernault said: “We are delighted that the government has listened to industry by agreeing to review this scheme.  

“We called for Entrepreneurs Relief (which applies to Capital Gains Tax) to be amended as it is particularly necessary for successive rounds of investment in life science companies. It is encouraging that the government is examining this in order to support UK innovation.”

The government has also listened to concerns from industry that not enough funding had been going to the next generation of research scientists, and has also said it will set up more financial help for those studying science at a post-graduate level. 

Commenting on the Budget announcement Steve Arnold, UCB's managing director of British and Irish Isles, said: “UCB welcomes the Chancellor's recognition of the relationship between scientific success and the future prosperity of the UK economy.”

He added: “As a science skills leader, we particularly welcome the announcement for new support for PhDs and research-based masters degrees. It is essential that the UK continues to provide the necessary support and encouragement to students studying science at all levels in order to ensure diversity as we develop the next generation of scientists with the skills and knowledge to keep the UK as a global centre for scientific innovation.

“UCB would also like to applaud the government's initiatives over the last five years that have helped to cultivate a supportive life sciences environment. However, with global competition for investment remaining strong, we believe further action is required and would urge the next government to formally review the current UK incentives for life sciences.”

Investment in the north of England

The chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne also announced a £20m funding boost in the Budget for four health and social care information projects.

These 'Connected Health Cities' will be the first investment of the government's Health North programme, which was originally proposed in January and designed to “unlock healthcare innovations in the English regions with the greatest health challenges”, according to Osborne.

This programme of work, which will be delivered by the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA), will assemble data, experts and technology to generate new information that will help shape health and social care services to deliver better outcomes for patients and communities. 

Article by
Ben Adams

19th March 2015

From: Healthcare

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