The Strategy for UK life sciences: The result So Far:

The life science sector is a key sector and jewel in the crown for the UK economy. The sector contributes a massive annual turnover of £50 Billion, comprises of over 5,000 companies and employs an estimated 175,000 people.

The life science sector is a key sector and jewel in the crown for the UK economy. The sector contributes a massive annual turnover of £50 Billion, comprises of over 5,000 companies and employs an estimated 175,000 people.

Back in 2011, the ‘Strategy for UK Life Sciences’ was launched by then Prime Minister David Cameron in a long term aim of making the UK the global hub for life sciences in the future. The strategy set out a vision where academia, NHS, charities and industry would come together to create an unrivalled ecosystem. The strategy was designed around 3 main principles:

  1. Building a life science ecosystem
  2. Attracting, developing and rewarding best talent
  3. Overcoming barriers and creating incentives for the promotion of health care innovation

A report (From vision to action: delivery of the Strategy for the UK Life Sciences) released by LIfeScience UK in 2014 evaluated the ‘Strategy for UK Life Sciences’ was of mixed success so far. Projects as the ‘Biomedical Catalyst Fund’ which is £180 million fund jointly managed by the Medical Research Council and the Technology Strategy Board matched private funding to support medical research and innovation was successful as of 2014. Almost £125 million has been committed to accelerate numerous medical research projects, including over 100 business led projects.

However, some projects have been slow to come to action and deliver anything close to their objectives. For example, the ‘Innovation Scoreboard’ was designed to track the adoption of NICE Technology Appraisals (recommendations on the use of new and existing medicines and treatments within the NHS) at a local level. These are useful tools to enable NHS staff to understand their organisation’s performance in adopting innovation and for patients / public to exercise choice about their service provider. So far the Innovation Scorecard has become stagnant and is not yet detailed enough or aligned with the latest National Institute for Health and Care Excellence technology appraisals to inform patients and public about the availability of innovative treatments in the NHS. There is a long way to go before patients and NHS stakeholders will be able to understand the Innovation Scorecard.

The Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) is another success of the strategy, the CPRD is the observational data and interventional research service for NHS in England. The CPRD can link anonymised NHS clinical data to observation research beneficial to safeguarding and improving public health. The CPRD now holds a range of over-arching governance approvals that make under undertaking research on NHS databases far simpler. It connects patient information from GPs and hospitals to other records, such as registries and audit datasets, these combined datasets can be used to answer medical research questions.

Fusion Antibodies like other SME’s can also benefit from the Strategy. Life Science SME’s are increasingly taking a lead role in driving growth and innovation which the government recognises. SME’s can benefit from The Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) which offers tax relief at 50% of the cost of shares in qualifying companies, up to a maximum annual investment limit of £100,000. This allows smaller Life Science companies to gain investment more easily from private investors.

Fusion Antibodies applauds the positive developments undertaken since the start of the strategy such as the Biomedical Catalyst and the Clinical Practice Research Datalink, and also the increased collaboration between the NHS, academia, industry and the voluntary sector. Implementation of some government commitments has been inconsistent and yet to meet anything remotely near their goals so it is therefore essential that the government renew their efforts and get it right in order for the UK to remain at the pinnacle of scientific and medical advances.

To read more about the ‘Strategy for UK Life Sciences’ by the Department of Business Innovation & Skills, please visit here

To read more about the ‘From vision to action: delivery of the Strategy for the UK Life Science’  by the LifeSciences UK, please visit here