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Cancer Research UK urges government to realise ‘science superpower’ ambitions as new report highlights ‘huge’ economic value

Researchers revealed that in 2020/21, the £1.8bn invested in cancer research generated more than £5bn of economic impact

Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK has urged the government to realise its ambitions to become a 'science superpower' after a new report highlighted the economic value of cancer research to the UK.

The charity called on the government to meet its commitment to spend 2.4% gross domestic product (GDP) on research and development (R&D) by 2027, but said that the UK is £2bn a year short of the government’s previous spending commitment to meet its 2.4% target.

Carried out by PA Consulting on behalf of the charity, the Understanding the Economic Value of Cancer Research report revealed that in 2020/21, the £1.8bn invested in cancer research generated more than £5bn of economic impact. This means that for every £1 invested in cancer research, £2.80 of economic benefit is generated.

Investment in the charity benefits the UK economy by supporting jobs within cancer research and creating demand across the wider life sciences and research supply chain. PA found that, of the £1.8bn 2020/21 investment, £815m represents salaries for 16,474 staff, almost 14,000 of which relate to highly skilled and highly paid scientific and technical roles.

Crucially, these roles are spread within cancer research organisations across all four countries in the UK and all nine regions in England, meaning that investment has a positive economic impact in terms of regional distribution.

Improvements in cancer survival also lead to economic benefits by enabling patients to continue working, with PA estimating the health benefit of the cancer research investment in 2020/21 was an additional 22,730 quality adjusted life years (QALYs), which has a societal value of $1,364m. Additionally, patients were able to carry on working, leading to an increase in earnings of $145m.

The report also revealed that the charity is responsible for around half of public sector and charitable investment in cancer research in the UK, generating £972m of economic benefits to the UK economy. The charity has also been successful in producing spin-out companies that are able to contribute further to the economy, with ten of the charity’s spin-outs in 2020 generating economic benefits worth around £824m.

The research follows the launch of Cancer Research Horizons, a new innovation engine built to complement the charity’s network of researchers by attracting more global private sector investment from pharma and biotech industries to the UK, creating ‘thousands’ of highly-skilled jobs.

Commenting on the report, Dr Ian Walker, executive director of policy, information and communications at Cancer Research UK, said: “I urge ministers to realise their ambition for the UK to become a ‘science superpower’ and commit more money towards UK R&D if we’re to continue to sit at the ‘top table’ with the likes of Germany and Japan.

Article by
Emily Kimber

5th July 2022

From: Research, Healthcare

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