Government boost to world leading UK life science industry

Published on Monday, 05 December 2011 15:57
Posted by Scott Buckler

A multi million pound package of support – including a new £180 million fund to support the next brilliant medical breakthroughs – and the roll out of state of the art life saving equipment to three million homes are part of a series of measures outlined by the Prime Minister today to support the UK’s life sciences industry

The UK life science industry is one of the world leaders; it is the third largest contributor to economic growth in the UK with more than 4,000 companies, employing around 160,000 people and with a total annual turnover of over £50 billion. Its success is key to future economic growth and our goal to rebalance the economy towards making new products and selling them to the world. Globally the industry is changing with more focus on collaboration, out-sourcing of research and earlier clinical trials with patients.

Today the Government launched its Life Sciences Strategy and a review of innovation in the NHS from NHS Chief Executive Sir David Nicholson to meet this challenge and attract further investment to the UK. The measures bring our science base and the NHS together to ensure the UK is the best place in the world for companies to invest in the discovery, development and commercialisation of medical innovations.

Key measures include:

* Deploying remote medical devices – such as home-based equipment that can send details of the vital statistics of at-risk patients directly to doctors – to 3 million people over the next five years. This will improve the lives of millions of people across the UK, saving lives and putting the UK at the forefront of global healthcare;

* Consulting on proposals on a new ‘early access scheme’ which will put new drugs and technologies in NHS hospitals more quickly than ever before, particularly in areas where new treatments are urgently needed, such as brain and lung cancer; and,

* Introducing a new £180 million catalyst fund to help the next generation of brilliant British medical breakthroughs become the next generation of great British companies. This fund will target the funding gap that exists – the so called ‘valley of death’ - between the moment that a bright new idea is developed in the laboratory and the point when a new drug or technology can be invested in by the market.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“We can be proud of our past – but we cannot be complacent about our future. The industry is changing; not just year by year, but month by month. We must ensure that the UK stays ahead, yes, we’ve got a leading science base, we’ve got four of the world’s top ten universities, and, we have a National Health Service unlike any other. But these strengths alone are not enough to keep pace with what’s happening - we’ve got to change radically – the way we innovate, the way we collaborate, the way we open up the NHS.

“The two reports we’re publishing today are testament to our ambition: not just to hang on in there with a significant foot-hold in the global market, but to take an even bigger share of that market in the years to come. I want the great discoveries of the next decade happening in British labs, the new technologies born in British start-ups.”

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, said:

This shows our ambition to create a world-class NHS that makes the latest and best treatments available to patients.

“Improving health outcomes for patients is vital and we are committed to giving NHS staff the tools so they can provide innovative, high quality care for their patients.”

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said:

Our life sciences industry is a vital driver of growth and employs tens of thousands of people. But it is rapidly changing. We need to keep ahead of the game and make the UK one of the best places for companies to invest in innovation.

“To do this we need to create the right environment for scientists and business to work together and translate research into new, cutting-edge technologies and medicines. This will this boost our economy, create new jobs, and lead to better treatments for patients.”

The NHS Chief Executive, Sir David Nicholson, said:

"The NHS has a long and proud track record of innovation that has driven major improvements in patient care. It is full of talented people with creative ideas but it often takes too long to implement these ideas in the NHS. The challenges the NHS faces to improve quality and productivity in the coming years means spreading best practice fast is not an optional extra, it is an operational necessity.

"The review gives us the tools to do that job by removing the barriers to spreading innovation and creating new local partnerships - Academic Health Science Networks - to support delivery. It sets out areas where there are particular opportunities for improvement, for example putting technology in peoples' homes to help them manage their own conditions. It represents a call to action for everyone in the NHS to make innovation a central priority.


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