As part of the industrial strategy, the Government committed to making the most of the UK’s strengths, so that we are at the forefront of new technologies and emerging industries in the years ahead. The life sciences sector is one of the most important pillars of the UK economy, contributing over £70 billion a year and 240,000 jobs across the country.
In 2017, a wide coalition of industry and charity partners, led by the Government’s life sciences champion Professor Sir John Bell, published an ambitious life sciences industrial strategy to set a clear direction for the future economic growth of the sector. The Government’s response came within only 12 weeks of the strategy’s publication with the very first life sciences sector deal. The deal announced nearly £500 million of Government support and over £1 billion of new inward industry investment, bringing together industry partners from across the sector, charities, a range of Government agencies and the NHS to deliver its bold vision at pace.
One year on, the second life sciences sector deal is going even further, announcing additional measures to secure a global lead in the areas of greatest opportunity for the UK. Taken together with the first sector deal, these programmes are building on existing strengths and putting in place the foundations for future growth needed to develop the ecosystem that allows life sciences to continue to thrive in the UK. The second life sciences sector deal sets out:
In early detection of disease and genomics:
Major investments in the last year from Government and sector partners delivering on our commitment to build on our world-leading assets at UK Biobank, further backed by a new, world-first commitment to sequence one million whole genomes in the UK within the next five years, with an ambition to sequence five million in the same timeframe.
A new commitment, backed by up to £79 million of Government funding, to develop a first-of-its-kind, world-leading longitudinal cohort of healthy participants that will enable scientific research into the hidden signs of disease and the development of diagnostic tools to detect and diagnose diseases earlier.
In digital technologies and data analytics we are:
Laying down the building blocks to realise the full potential of NHS data, while maintaining public trust and maximising the benefits for NHS patients.
Setting out further detail on digital innovation hubs which will provide expert clinical research data services with world-leading data analysis and sharing capabilities—a core part of a wider programme to improve health data infrastructure and support digitally-enabled clinical research.
Detailing progress on five centres of excellence in digital pathology and radiology with AI including the announcement of a further £50 million investment in the programme as a first step towards making this a truly national asset to support early and improved diagnosis across the UK and deliver more efficient NHS services.
In advanced therapies:
Significant support has been allocated from the £146 million leading-edge healthcare package (part of the industrial strategy challenge fund) announced in the sector deal last year to build an impressive end-to-end national infrastructure.
Investors have recognised the strength in UK-grown advanced therapy biotechs and UK companies are scaling up their cell and gene therapy manufacturing facilities.
Wider policy measures are supporting the package, including:
Speeding up and streamlining the UK clinical environment.
Developing a regulatory framework that keeps pace with innovative technologies.
Helping the sector access the skills it needs.
The deal also sets out how we are delivering on our commitment to increase R and D spend in the UK to 2.4% of GDP by 2027. We are improving the uptake of innovation in the NHS, implementing the accelerated access review. This year the NHS will set out through its forthcoming long-term plan and the recently announced medicines pricing agreement, how it will be a crucial national partner and beneficiary of innovations flowing from industry.
Industry partners have responded to commitments from Government with a further wave of their own commitments to the UK, generating well over £1 billion in new investment. These include:
A £1 billion investment by UCB, a world-leading pharmaceutical company, in a new discovery research hub in the UK, including a purpose-built R and D facility, early manufacturing and commercial operations which will support around 650 high-value jobs, many in R and D and early manufacturing, enabling further collaborations with UK universities, biotechs and medical research charities.
Over £200 million of further investments from a wide range of companies, including GW Pharmaceuticals, Roche, Celgene Ltd, IQVIA Ltd and Oxford Biomedica Plc.
The strength of the partnership between the Government, the NHS and the life sciences sector is making the UK a global standard bearer for discovery research and advanced manufacturing. We are committed to continuing the hard work of implementation over the coming years because the prize—a globally leading UK life sciences environment —will deliver huge benefits to the people of this country through a stronger economy and a stronger NHS.
Sector deals, where industries are invited to come forward with plans for their future, embody the ethos of our collaborative approach. They show how industry and the Government, working in partnership, can boost the productivity and earning power of specific sectors.
I am placing a copy of the second life sciences sector deal in the Libraries of both Houses.