Government announces life sciences Sector Deal

The government has announced a Sector Deal for UK life sciences that hopes to boost UK productivity and bring new treatments, technologies and innovations to Britain.

The Industrial Strategy White Paper brings together partnerships with some of the world’s biggest life sciences organisations including Philips, Johnson & Johnson, Novo Nordisk, Merck and others.

About the Sector Deal, health secretary Jeremy Hunt, said: “The UK has a huge amount to offer the life sciences sector, combining globally renowned scientific research bases with our world leading NHS which allows innovators to test and refine products at scale. Today proves that life science organisations of all sizes will continue to grow and thrive in the coming years, which means NHS patients will continue to be at the front of the queue for new treatments.”

The Sector Deal highlights technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), data and digital diagnostics and aims to place the UK at the forefront of these emerging and growing markets. It also references how technology can help meet the needs of an ageing society.

Key policies of the deal include an investment of £725 million into new Industrial Strategy programmes and an aim to raise the total research and development investment to 2.4% of GDP by 2027. The government is also investing an addition £406 million in maths, digital and technical education to help address the shortage of science, technology, engineering and maths skills.

A £2.5 billion Investment Fund will also help drive over £20 billion of investment into innovative businesses that have high potential.

The deal also reinstates the importance of the Accelerated Access Review that hopes to improve access to new technologies in the NHS. The Sector Deal aims to establish an Accelerated Access Collaborative to bring new products to patients, invest £86 million into local NHS organisations and innovators and support small and medium-sized businesses that can partner with the NHS to develop technologies.

More so, it will support the development of the UK’s health data infrastructure by working with NHS England, NHS Digital and Health Data Research. By working with these organisations Sector Deal aims to develop regional, interoperable Digital Innovation Hubs which utilise data in a safe, anonymous and legal environment.

Regius professor of Medicine, University of Oxford, professor John Bell, who led the White Paper, said: “This Life Sciences Sector Deal demonstrates how powerful it can be to have industry, the NHS, the research community and charities all working together to provide important new insights that can lead to the discovery and implementation of novel innovations for healthcare. It represents a significant change in both pace and culture that I hope will lead to a flow of such investments into the future.”

Sarah Haywood, CEO at MedCity, responded to the Sector Deal, saying: “The UK is one of the best places in the world for cutting-edge science and this boost of investment from some of the biggest names in Pharma ensures we continue to be at the forefront of innovative research, technologies and treatments. It’s great to see the confidence in The Golden Triangle with a new collaboration between J&J and Oxford University for mental health clinical trials; GSK’s £40m investment into genetic research at its global centre in Stevenage; MSD’s new research hub in London; and AstraZeneca’s £500m global HQ at Cambridge Biomedical Campus coming up next year.

“The Deals will also strengthen the UK’s genomics industry including a new partnership between GSK, AstraZeneca and the Government to contribute to the whole genome sequencing of the UK Biobank, which builds on the work of innovative companies such as Cambridge Epigenetix, Genomics plc and Congenica with Genomics England. Today’s announcements are a great start towards Government, industry and academia coming together to deliver long-term investment into the life sciences sector and MedCity is keen to work with these players to help them grow their business in the region.”

Reece Armstrong is a reporter for Digital Health Age. Coming from the North East of England, Reece has an MA in Media & Journalism and a BA in Popular & Contemporary Music from Newcastle University. Reach him on Twitter or email via:

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