Can the UK become a life sciences leader?

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Industry proposals to help the UK’s life sciences sector become an international benchmark for success will be unveiled by Professor Sir John Bell during a speech at the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Translational Medicine later today (Wednesday 30 August 2017).

Attended by Business Secretary Greg Clark and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Sir John Bell will outline the industry’s vision for how government can work alongside the sector to boost businesses large and small across the £64 billion life sciences sector.

In the Government’s Industrial Strategy green paper, launched in January, life sciences was one of five of the UK’s leading sectors tasked with working with stakeholders across the industry to identify opportunities for how Government can support the industry.

The industry-led Life Sciences Industrial Strategy follows Sir John Bell’s comprehensive cross-sector review into the long-term future of the industry and brings together input and recommendations from a broad range of stakeholders, including global companies such as AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson, MSD, GSK and healthcare groups, SMEs and charities. 

The report’s recommendations will be considered carefully by the Government and used to work towards a Sector Deal between Government and the global life sciences sector. 

Sir John Bell is expected to say: “The vision for the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy is an ambitious one and sets out proposals for how the UK can continue to capitalise on its strengths in the sector, both to encourage economic growth and to improve health outcomes for patients.

“We have created a strategy which capitalises on our strong science base to further build the industry into a globally-unique and internationally competitive life sciences eco-system, supported by collaboration across industry, Government, the NHS, academia, and research funders to deliver health and wealth.   

“I look forward to working with Government to consider the strategy’s recommendations, including those that can be taken forward as part of an ambitious Sector Deal.”

The Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, a report to the Government from the life sciences sector, is organised under five key themes – science, growth, NHS, data, and skills – with proposals to build on the UK’s strengths in each area. These include:

•       Science – Reinforcing the UK science offer by sustaining and increasing funding for basic science to match our international competition and by further improving UK clinical trial capabilities

•       Growth – Improving growth and infrastructure across the country, through a tax environment that supports growth and by attracting substantial investment to manufacture and export high value life science products of the future

•       NHS – Encouraging NHS collaboration by recommending the Accelerated Access Review be adopted with national routes to market streamlined and clarified, including for digital products

•       Data – Making better use of data and other evidence by establishing two to five regional innovation hubs that would provide data across regions of three to five million people

•       Skills – Ensuring the UK has the talent and skills to underpin future life sciences success by delivering a reinforced skills action plan across the NHS, commercial and third sectors

The Strategy also recommends the establishment of the Healthcare Advanced Research Program (HARP), a programme through which industries, charities and the NHS can collaborate on ambitious and long-term UK-based projects to transform healthcare and take advantage of the medical trends of the next 20 years.

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