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Life sciences

Investment from across the globe for UK life sciences 'sector deal'

The deal aims to use co-investment from government and business to increase productivity in the UK life sciences.

UK business secretary Greg Clark


UK business secretary Greg Clark launched the deal, which included a £40m commitment from GlaxoSmithKline

The government has announced commitments and investment in the UK by 25 global organisations as part of its life sciences “sector deal”.

The deal, which aims to increase productivity in the UK life sciences industry through co-investment from government and business, forms a significant part of the government’s Industrial Strategy white paper, published on 27 November 2017.

Launching the deal, business secretary Greg Clark said: “We are home to many of the most successful global life sciences businesses and we are also a hotbed of new businesses — springing up to bring new discoveries and techniques to a wider market.”

“That is what our industrial strategy sets out to support and achieve. So it is appropriate that the first sector deal of our industrial strategy should be with the life sciences sector.”

GSK’s £40m commitment

One of the investments announced was from pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which said it would invest £40m to strengthen initiatives in genetic research for the development of new medicines.

According to GSK, the commitment will strengthen its Open Targets collaboration with the European Bioinformatics Institute, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Biogen and Takeda, which makes genetic and biological data openly available to researchers to help speed up the development of new medicines.

The investment will also support the sequencing of data from 500,000 volunteer participants following on from previously announced efforts to generate genetic sequencing data from UK Biobank, a national and international health resource.

“This new investment by GSK, along with money from other public and private organisations, is building on the UK’s already world-leading status in the field of genomics and bioinformatics,” said Patrick Vallance, president of research and development at GSK.

Other investment deals

Further investments have also been announced: MSD, which is set to make a “major investment” into the UK with the opening of a new London-based life sciences discovery centre; Johnson & Johnson, which intends to collaborate on novel clinical trial methodologies in the UK; and Medicines Company, which aims to improve the understanding, management and economics of cardiovascular disease. Several other companies are expected to announce further deals in the coming weeks.

john bell life science oxford university 17

Courtesy of University of Oxford

John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, wrote the government’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, to which the co-investment deal between the government and the private sector is aligned

The sector deal is aligned to the themes of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, written by John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University.

On 5 December 2017, Bell told the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee that one of the most important points to take from the strategy was that it was about “collaboration” and creating a partnership between government and industry, rather than maintaining what is currently a “transactional” relationship in the UK.

“I was asked in May what I would like to get out of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy … One thing [we have] achieved is an increased collaboration and much better relationship between the actors in the life sciences health-related disciplines,” he said.

“The NHS, governments funders, academic community, charities and industry across the whole health sector are working much better now than they ever were before to deliver innovations that will have a big impact on healthcare,” he added.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20204081

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