What we do

The Office for Life Sciences is part of BIS. It fosters the sustainable long-term growth and global competitiveness of the UK life sciences sector.

Life Sciences in the UK

The UK has one of the strongest and most productive life sciences industries in the world, contributing to patient well-being as well as supporting growth. UK life science industries generate turnover of over £52 billion and employ an estimated 176,000 people in approximately 4,980 companies.

The industry is high-tech, innovative and highly diverse, spanning pharmaceuticals, medical technology (devices and diagnostics) and medical 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.

In partnership with industry, the government is building on and fostering UK strengths, as well as responding to the changing global commercial environment. We want to make the UK the location of choice for investment in pioneering life sciences research and development (R&D) and manufacturing, so that life sciences will continue to be vibrant in the UK and a key contributor to sustained economic growth and health improvements.

The Office for Life Sciences (OLS) works closely with the Department of Health (DH), championing biotechnology and the pharmaceutical and medical technology industries and UK Trade & Investment (UKTI). We also work with other agencies and organisations including the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and the NHS.

Strategy for UK life sciences

The Strategy for UK life sciences was launched by the Prime Minister in December 2011. It set out a range of measures to support growth in the UK health life science sector.

The strategy is based on 3 pillars:

Building a UK life sciences ecosystem

Making it easier for researchers to commercialise academic research, placing clinical research at the heart of the NHS, and empowering patients to participate in research.

Attracting, developing and rewarding talent

Introduction of measures to attract and nurture world-leading talent and develop scientific excellence. These measures are ensuring 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

Introduction of 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. We will also continue to reduce the bureaucracy of setting up clinical trials to ensure that patients have access to promising, cost-effective, new treatments.


In December 2012, the Prime Minister launched Strategy for life sciences: one year on. This report summarises the substantial progress made during the strategy’s first 12 months as well as announcing the government’s commitment to the sequencing of 100,000 whole genomes from NHS patients over the next three to five years. See David Willetts’ speech relating to the report.

The Strategy for UK life sciences was launched alongside, and is being implemented in collaboration with, the NHS chief executive’s review: Innovation, health and wealth: accelerating adoption and diffusion in the NHS. The update to this report, Creating change: innovation, health and wealth one year on, was published on 10 December 2012.


The Office for Life Sciences publishes quarterly newsletters updating the sector on progress with the Strategy for UK Life Sciences:

We work on these topics

  1. Science and innovation

    The government funds and supports innovation in science, technology and engineering to help the UK's high-tech industries to thrive. Read more


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Office for Life Sciences

1 Victoria Street, London

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