Following the publication of the Government’s Strategy for UK Life Sciences in December 2011, the Parliamentary Yearbook has been closely following progress for major features in the next edition
Yesterday Ministers announced substantial new funding awards to boost the UK life sciences industry, as UK and international delegates met in London for the British Business Embassy Healthcare and Life Sciences summit.
The UK has one of the strongest and most productive life sciences industry’s in the world, contributing to patient well-being as well as supporting growth.
The industry is high-tech, innovative, and highly diverse, spanning pharmaceuticals, medical technology, biotechnology, and industrial biotechnology and has applications across many other sectors. Through the development of innovative medicines, medical technologies and services, its businesses contribute to a stronger and fairer society, helping people enjoy better health, well-being and quality of life. They are also helping the UK improve its sustainability and reduce carbonisation.
In December last year, the Prime Minister launched the Government’s Strategy for UK life sciences to help life sciences businesses grow and succeed. The strategy focuses on the health-related aspects of the sector. It is a long-term strategy, looking forward ten to 15 years, building on the March 2011 Plan for Growth. It was launched alongside, and will be implemented in collaboration with, the NHS Chief Executive’s Review: Innovation, health and wealth: accelerating adoption and diffusion in the NHS.
The Strategy for UK life Sciences is based on three pillars:
- Building a UK life sciences ecosystem: the Government will make it easier for researchers to commercialise academic research, will place clinical research at the heart of the NHS, and will empower patients to participate in research
- Attracting, developing and rewarding talent: the Government will introduce measures to ensure that the UK attracts and nurtures world-leading talent and develops scientific excellence, These measures will also ensure that the UK offers exciting and rewarding careers for clinicians, scientists and technicians from all around the world
- Overcoming barriers and creating incentives for the promotion of healthcare innovation: the Government is introducing measures to incentivise early-stage investment and nurture the best innovations through the translational funding gap to a point at which they can secure follow-on investment. The Government will continue to reduce the bureaucracy of setting up clinical trials to ensure that patients have access to promising, cost-effective new treatments.
And yesterday Health Secretary Andrew Lansley and Universities and Science Minister David Willetts announced that the first awards totalling £10 million from Government’s £180 million Biomedical Catalyst have been awarded to fourteen UK universities and 18 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). These awards from the Medical Research Council and the Technology Strategy Board will support UK academics and businesses on the first vital step in exploring the market potential of their early-stage scientific ideas.
David Willetts also announced that the Medical Research Council and a consortium of 10 UK Government and charity research funders have invested £19 million to establish four e-health research centres in London, Manchester, Dundee and Swansea. The new centres will enable the UK to make more effective use of electronic health data – a field with huge possibilities for health care delivery and the understanding of disease.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the Olympic drug-testing laboratories, located in Harlow, will be converted into a £10 million world-class research centre. The MRC-NIHR Phenome Centre, the first of its kind in the world, will use cutting edge facilities developed for London 2012 to help develop better and more targeted treatment for patients, and will enable researchers to explore the characteristics of disease in order to develop new drugs and treatments for patients.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:
“We want to create a world-class NHS that makes the latest and best treatments available to patients.
“Our investment in the new MRC-NIHR Phenome Centre, the first of its kind, promises better targeted treatments for patients with a wide range of common diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and dementia.
“It’s part of the record funding made available for biomedical and clinical research through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), to support studies including those funded though the Biomedical Catalyst programme.”
Minister for Life Sciences David Willetts said:
“The UK has one of the world’s largest and most productive life science sectors. We have cutting edge industries such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and medical technologies. We attract almost 10 per cent of the world’s pharmaceutical R&D funding.
“The Global Business Summit on Life Sciences will introduce some of the world’s most important and influential sector leaders to see what the UK have to offer.
“It will also highlight how UK innovation continues to flourish and how the industry collaborates, to produce world class services, products and individuals.
“I am delighted to be a part of this event, which positions the UK as a firm leader in the world of life sciences.”
The Life Sciences Day is one of 18 global business summits being organised by UK Trade & Investment to promote UK businesses and facilitate international trade during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
International business announced by firms at yesterday’s summit included:
- Fast Track Diagnostics Research Ltd (FTD) has announced the opening of an Indian subsidiary and said that it will be expanding its research capacity in the UK by the end of this year
- Morningside Pharmaceuticals Ltd, a multi-award-winning British company dedicated to providing affordable healthcare to aid agencies, has announced a €177K (£139k) contract with Unicef to deliver the medicine Podophylloxtin Solution, used to treat sexually transmitted diseases, to Malawi.
- Inanovate, a US-based company with expertise in protein screening to support research, drug development and clinical diagnostics, is to create a new biology post at its UK base in the West Midlands to support a recently-announced sepsis research project.
The Parliamentary Year book will continue to monitor progress as we go through the months ahead and a full feature will be published in the next edition.