News story

Major investment in life sciences

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

New investment into life sciences announced alongside a review into how we develop medicines and medical technology.

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Since the Prime Minister launched the industrial strategy in life sciences 3 years ago the industry has agreed over £3.5 billion of investment in the UK which is expected to create over 11,000 new jobs.

Minister for Life Sciences, George Freeman said:

NHS leadership in health research is attracting new investment into our life sciences research sector, generating the health and wealth we need to be a modern economy. I want to ensure that patients up and down the country can get access to important innovations as soon as possible. By revolutionising the way in which we look at getting medicines and devices into the NHS we will make sure that this country is the best place in the world for 21st Century medical innovation.

Innovative Medicines and MedTech Review

The ‘Innovative Medicines Review’ will be launched to consider how to speed up patient access to cost-effective and innovative medicines, devices and diagnostics.

It currently takes on average over a decade and £1billion to develop a new drug. A fresh approach, made possible by ground-breaking developments in genomics and digital technology, could significantly reduce the time it takes to develop new medicines, devices and diagnostics.

The ‘Innovative Medicines and MedTech Review’ will examine:

  • how new approaches to the development of medicines, diagnostic and devices, based on precision medicine and emerging technologies, could speed up access to innovative products for NHS patients
  • how more collaborative work between companies and regulatory and evaluation bodies could ensure that innovative products can be assessed more quickly, using better data
  • how charities and patient groups can play a greater role so that NHS patients can get access to cutting-edge treatments
  • what more can be done to promote the rapid adoption of important medical innovations into clinical practice

New industry investment

In addition a package of £63 million of new investment has been announced today (20 November 2014). The new investment includes:

  • MSD, known as Merck in the United States and Canada, plans to invest a minimum of £42 million in UK life sciences over the next three years by creating a new licensing hub in London, expanding research at its Hertfordshire headquarters and funding clinical research in oncology and dementia.
  • BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), a global medical technology company, is investing £21 million to build a next generation blood separation tube production line in Plymouth. The project will create 40 jobs and safeguard 138, and is being supported by a Regional Growth Fund grant of £2.48 million.

Adam Schechter, President, Global Human Health, MSD said:

We are impressed with the United Kingdom’s approach to its Life Sciences strategy which takes an “end to end” view of medicines, from discovery through their use in the real world. Our commitment extends beyond the realms of academic and clinical research, and strives to find innovative ways to use data and technology to transform healthcare and in turn, patients’ lives. We firmly believe the opportunities for partnership and collaboration in this area will continue to grow.

Biomedical Catalyst Funding

The government is supporting investment in life sciences through the ‘Biomedical Catalyst’ funding programme. This funds SME and academic led projects with commercial potential.

Innovate UK and the Medical Research Council (MRC) have now allocated another £31 million of support from rounds 5 and 6 of the programme. That means the two bodies have awarded £200 million to over 250 companies and universities, and gained a further £100 million in industry co-commitment.

Secretary of State Vince Cable said:

Our investment in scientific infrastructure, our world leading universities and a government that is committed to science, has made the UK the go-to destination for life science research. The Government’s industrial strategy is at the heart of the recovery and gives business the confidence to invest and create jobs in the UK.

Published 20 November 2014