Authored article

London must be at the heart of the life sciences innovation economy

Writing in City AM, George Freeman talks about how London has a big part to play in funding breakthroughs in life sciences.

George Freeman opens the market at the London Stock Exchange

You heard it at Davos, and in every boardroom in the City and Whitehall: what does the new model of 21st century innovation look like?

The breathless pace of biotechnology and bioscience is driving a quiet revolution in the fields of medicine, agriculture and energy. From drought resistance crops to new personalised genomic drugs, the ‘bio-economy’ is becoming big business. And as the rapidly developing world gets hungry for innovation, it is one the UK is leading.

Ensuring our life sciences legacy

Life sciences is now becoming one of the UK’s biggest growth sectors. Government is ensuring its legacy – we protected the ring-fenced science budget in real terms to the end of this Parliament and committed £6.9 billion investment in science infrastructure up to 2021.

Our latest estimates show that, since I launched the Strategy for UK Life Sciences with the Prime Minister – to build a long-term partnership between industry and government – we have attracted more than £6 billion in new investment in the life sciences industry and created more than 17,000 new jobs.

Infographic: £6 billion of new investment in the life sciences sector, helping to create more than 17,000 jobs since 2011 #ScienceIsGREAT

London at the forefront of 21st century innovation

But where do we go from here? And how can we make sure the City of London is at the forefront of the next stage of 21st century innovation?

I believe it means 3 things:

  • being bold in thinking how the City, innovative companies, and public sector can work together to support an innovation economy
  • recognising the global potential of the bio-science revolution
  • seizing the once-in-a-generation chance to rebalance our economy by exporting our science and innovation around the globe

I believe London must not just be the home of stockmarket listings, but also be a dedicated hub for financing emerging companies and developing new funding models, crowdsourcing, and innovative fintech for the broader bioscience sector.

George Freeman at the London Stock Exchange
George Freeman opens the market at the London Stock Exchange

Driving long-term growth

We have a unique opportunity to drive a new cycle of long-term growth. But to do that we must enable the collaboration of government, with the public and the City to help innovative bio-science companies export their expertise to the emerging market that needs them.

Already we have heard the Business Secretary Sajid Javid will launch an innovation plan for the UK. London has a big part to play.

Published 27 January 2016