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​Are Current Incentives Doing Enough To Attract Investment Into Life Sciences?


The Life Sciences industry is going through one of its toughest periods to date. Falling employment in the sector coupled with Brexit infused turbulance has had a knock-on effect. Yet, the government’s Life Science's ambitions for the UK has seen a raft of measures put in place to make this happen. But are they enough?

In January 2017, Life Sciences was named as part of the Building Our Industrial Strategy Green Paper. In December 2017, a new Industrial Strategy and a Life Sciences Sector Deal was published. But the government is not just talking the talk, figures suggest it’s  following through with solid investment. In fact, the UK tops the chart for Government spend on research & development (R&D) across selected European countries. It has topped the charts for several years (source: OLS annual life sciences competitiveness indicators).

When it comes to foreign direct investment projects, the UK saw the highest number in seven years in 2017. Its 60 life science projects was double the number from 2011. The value of these investments only ranks the UK as fourth in terms of capital expenditure. Yet, figures show that following a dip in 2016 the value has returned to 2015 levels (source: OLS annual life sciences competitiveness indicators).

London is leading the way

MedCity found that London’s investment in life sciences figure nearly reached £1bn. This made it the highest earner of the cities looked at. The figures are supported by impressive outcomes too. One of the most groundbreaking projects the UK has worked on is the 100,000 Genomes Project. This launched Genomics England – a company owned and funded by the Department of Health & Social Care. This project has revolutionised the way genetics data is stored and used. It has also led to the UK being the only nation in the world to have a large-scale genetic dataset. Enabling new medical research and transforming patient care.

The government’s commitment to the sector is helping attract investment. Measures it has taken to create a favourable funding environment have been well received. The Chancellor’s budget last November pledged an additional £2.3bn of spending on R&D.  Meaning by 2021-2022 the total spend will be £12.5bn. Another key outcome of the 2017 Budget was the creation of a £2.5bn British Patient Capital fund. Giving high growth potential companies long-term investment. This included the transfer of the Dementia Discovery Fund to the scheme. Inclusive of a £9m investment in the venture capital fund that invests in novel science to find new medicines for dementia patients.

Of course, it’s not just about investing money into R&D opportunities. It's also about investing into the infrastructure that supports the Life Sciences community. To that end, the government is also pouring investment into housing, transport and business development. Key areas like the so-called Golden Triangle (encompassing the area between London, Cambridge and Oxford) are to be invested in. All in the hope that it will drive further innovation and attract more investment into the sector in the coming years.

Supporting the sector

The UK government is also playing host to a series of roundtable events. These will bring together stakeholders from leading Life Sciences firms, showing a further commitment to engage with the industry. “As an international economic department, the Department for International Trade is determined to boost investment into the sector by organising roundtables at No10 Downing Street,” commented International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox. “This is so we can engage with companies and directly overcome any challenges they may face to accessing worldwide opportunities.”

But is this investment and activity paying off? Well the UK remains the number one European destination for inward investment in life sciences. Globally, it ranks number two – with the US taking the top spot. By 2027, the government will have increased investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP. This will increase to 3% longer term – estimating an £80bn increase in the next decade. Making the Life Sciences industry an attractive investment opportunity is top priority. Plans have been revealed for the Health Research Authority to speed up approvals for clinical trials. The key will be to continue to support this industry and make it an attractive proposition for businesses and investors in the future. The Government plan to make the UK one of the best places in the world to develop and launch new diagnostics, technologies and medicine .

Feeling incentivised to become the newest investment into the Life Sciences sector? Why not let Kelly help you through the stages of your new career search: email our Kelly Scientific team or search for jobs directly.