Despite a myriad of uncertainties around its decision to leave the European Union, the UK still stands as one of the world’s premier life science investment destinations. With heavyweight medical science infrastructure and a well-earned reputation for elite-level innovation, the key industry stakeholders featured in our UK report, explore how the nation is attempting to re-position itself post-Brexit. The differing voices of the thought leaders we interviewed address both the challenges and the opportunities of a unique situation.
One of the main topics covered in the report is the implications of the government’s ambitious ‘Life Sciences Industrial Strategy’ and subsequent ‘Sector Deal’ with the pharma industry. This deal calls for an increase in conventional research funding, initiatives to boost home-grown pharma manufacturing, bringing an additional 2,000 discovery scientists to the UK and the setting up of high-risk, high-reward “moonshot” projects in emerging disciplines.
We also examine the ways in which multinational companies such as AstraZeneca, Roche, Novartis and Pfizer are continuing to invest in British R&D, as well as the inimitable UK National Health Service (NHS). We were lucky enough to speak to Simon Stevens, CEO of NHS England as he reminisced on the much-loved institution’s 70th anniversary.
Other key issues we examined include the uniquely prominent role played by British medical research charities, which poured GBP 1.6 billion (USD 2.1 billion) into medical research in 2017. The ‘catapult’ organizations set up to propel innovation forward in cell and gene therapy, and the continuing attractiveness of the UK as a manufacturing base for Big Pharma.
HCLS Review UK also contains geostrategic examinations of what the country has to offer both inside the ‘Golden Triangle’ of Oxford, Cambridge and London (which boasts 600 life science companies with a combined market capitalization of GBP 5.7 billion (USD 7.5 billion) – and outside, notably in Scotland which has gained a well-earned reputation as a hub for companies involved in innovative cell and gene therapies.
Naturally, the picture is not completely rosy, with the UK facing multiple challenges. Particularly Britain’s recent fallout with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and their announcement to relocate to Amsterdam.
The underfunded and strained NHS is already slow to uptake innovative treatments, especially in areas such as rare diseases. This is a situation that could potentially be exacerbated by de-alignment from EMA norms, thus severely affecting British patients’ ability to access lifesaving treatments.
Nevertheless, through the comments of government representatives, veteran industry commentators, multinational country managers, homegrown entrepreneurs and research scientists, emerges a picture of a country in flux but set to retain its place at the top table of international science and innovation.