On 7th July 2021, the UK Government published its Life Sciences Vision paper (the “Vision”), which sets out a 10-year strategy for this sector to build on the UK’s remarkable life sciences expertise, particularly enhanced by the successes of the COVID-19 response over the past 18 months and which has been co-developed alongside businesses and industry experts.

The Vision highlights what the UK Government, the NHS, regulators, companies, medical research charities, academia and philanthropy need to do to create an environment in which the life sciences industry can grow and succeed in the UK, which is encompassed in four key themes:

  1. Building on the new ways of working from COVID-19 to tackle future disease missions.
  2. Building on the UK’s science and clinical research infrastructure and harnessing the UK’s unique genomic and health data.
  3. Supporting the NHS to test, purchase and spread innovative technologies more effectively, so that cutting-edge science and innovations can be embedded widely across the NHS as early as possible, and rapidly adopted in the rest of the world.
  4. Creating the right business environment in the UK in which companies can access the finance to grow, be regulated in an agile and efficient way, and manufacture and commercialise their products in the UK.

The Vision’s focus is on seven ‘missions’ that are technology or disease specific, intended to help the NHS solve some of the biggest healthcare problems of our generation. These missions are as follows:

  1. Improving translational capabilities in neurodegeneration and dementia.
  2. Enabling early diagnosis and treatments, including immune therapies such as cancer vaccines.
  3. Sustaining the UK position in novel vaccine discovery development and manufacturing.
  4. Treatment and prevention of cardiovascular diseases and its major risk factors, including obesity.
  5. Reducing mortality and morbidity from respiratory disease in the UK and globally.
  6. Addressing the underlying biology of ageing.
  7. Increasing the understanding of mental health conditions, including work to redefine diseases and develop translational tools to address them.

With COVID-19 putting the spotlight on the life sciences sector, together with the Vision’s backing extending beyond the borders of the pandemic, it is evidently the time for life sciences companies to showcase their innovations and for scientists to rise to the challenge of making the UK a life sciences superpower.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We are indebted to the ingenuity of UK life sciences and its pioneers, with the discovery of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and the seamless collaboration between our scientists, industry, regulators and NHS saving millions of lives during the pandemic…That’s why we are setting out our new Life Sciences Vision to bottle the formula we have developed to tackle Covid and improve health outcomes for patients across the board in the UK, and secure jobs and investment in the process as we build back better.”

To support this ambition, the government has also launched its Life Sciences Investment Programme, which is a £200 million government investment that will unlock the potential of innovative UK life sciences companies so that they can grow their operations and create high-skilled jobs in the UK.

Furthermore, British Patient Capital (a wholly owned subsidiary of the state-owned British Business Bank) has agreed a collaboration with Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company, one of the world’s leading sovereign investors. Under this partnership, Mubadala has committed to invest £800 million in the UK life sciences industry and will work with British Patient Capital to identify sector trends and investment opportunities.

Consequently, £1 billion of new funding is available for the UK’s most promising life sciences companies, with the potential for further funding from other institutional investors and pension funds.

According to Science Media Centre[1], Richard Torbett, Chief Executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry commented on the Vision as follows: “This is an ambitious statement about how the UK can become a life sciences superpower. We’ve seen just how important the partnership between industry, the government and the NHS has been to the response to the pandemic, and we need to take the same approach if we are going to make the UK a global hub for life sciences”.

The Vision sends an encouraging message to all current and future scientists with a desire to innovate and build successful life sciences companies. It is also a friendly invitation to investors and presents exciting opportunities for legal and other professional advisors practicing in the life sciences industry to exploit this ‘superpower’ in our corporate world.

 

[1]https://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-reaction-to-the-governments-new-uk-life-sciences-vision/?cli_action=1625685609.743

 

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