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What's The Effect Of Administrative Devolution For Life Sciences?

Kelly recruiters are experts in life sciences recruitment. We are always on top of trends within the market. If you’re looking for a career in life sciences, considering the potential different opportunities within the UK may be of interest to you.

The UK Life Sciences Sector is globally renowned for being high-tech, scientifically diverse, innovative and research-intensive. In 2015 it supported 482,000 jobs and contributed a significant £30.7bn to the economy. Of the 233,400 people employed within the UK life sciences sector, 6% work in Scotland, 5% work in Wales and 2% work in Northern Ireland. High turnover figures from 2016 show a promising picture for the significance of the sector.

Devolution of the UK has provided each region with the opportunity to develop its own identify within the sector. This, in turn, ensures that it's making decisions to boost its economy. Four devolved nations have also prevented one sole area becoming the hub of Life Sciences. Instead, it has offered the opportunity for regional hubs to develop, often with their own specialism. Thus, making the UK as a whole an enticing proposition for Life Sciences investment.


Wales is already home to some of the most progressive companies in the world within the Life Sciences industry. It has established clusters of excellence in several high-growth markets, such as wound care, single use technology and in vitro diagnostics. The £3m Life Sciences Bridging Fund helps researchers to connect with industry. This allows the rapid shipping of products to market, with funding coming direct from the Welsh government. This fund complements the Welsh Life Sciences Investment fund (WLSIF): a £100m equity fund managed on behalf of the Welsh government.


According to Andrew Bowie: “In Scotland today, there are over 600 life sciences organisations employing more than 30,000 people, making Scotland one of the largest life sciences clusters in Europe” (19th Dec 2017, Vol 633, Hansard). Scotland is also making its mark on energy efficiency. It has one of the most effective systems for translating advances in life sciences into improved patient care. Scotland has its own strategy for the sector. The Life Science Strategy for Scotland: 2025 Vision. This includes the key themes: innovation, sustainable production, creating a strong business environment and internationalisation.


England is home to the Golden Triangle of Oxford, Cambridge and London. The surrounding area is home to four of the world’s top twenty universities and four of the top ten medical sciences faculties in the world. This area alone is a clear driver for economic growth in the sector. The North West of England also has a strong presence in the life sciences sector. AstraZeneca, Leeds is home to some 200 medtech companies. Greater Manchester (home to Unilever’s manufacturing base) is a renowned hub for life sciences and is also responsible for controlling some of its own spending and decisions following city devolution.


Northern Ireland’s thriving life and health sciences sector makes it a strong proposition for companies looking to invest. It also boasts low operating costs (some 20-30 per cent lower than the rest of the UK). Also, it has an attractive tax regime. When its rate of corporation tax reduces to 12.5 per cent it will be the joint lowest in Western Europe. It offers expertise in precision medicine, clinical trials and digital health. Two of its academic institutions rank in the top 10 in the UK for bioscience research (Ulster University and Queen’s University Belfast). Northern Ireland’s Life & Health Science Strategy Action Plan 2016-20 sets out its ambition to become a ‘Living Lab’.


The Future

In recent years, a grant for many city regions to have control over some areas of local spending and decisions was permitted. This was designed to boost the economy in that particular area. Most significant of those is Greater Manchester. It is home to many top medical research institutes as well as Europe’s largest cancer treatment centre. The 2016 Science and Innovation Audit highlighted health innovation and advanced materials as Greater Manchester’s core strengths. The city is leading the way for the rest of the country.

Have any questions about working in the Life Sciences Sector? Why not find out some more by contacting us now!