S3: Life Sciences-January Update

Working towards a Strategy for Life Sciences-January Update 

S6: Life Sciences, Barry Hardy OpenTox Asia 2017

Dr Barry Hardy 


Douglas Connect




Immediately following the referendum result, the UK EU Steering Group was convened to help bring forward an industry view on the key issues for life sciences as we leave the EU, and to enable dialogue with government, including the Department for Exiting the European Union, HM Treasury, the Department for International Trade, the Department of Health, the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, and No10. The strong leadership of this group by Sir Andrew Witty and Pascal Soriot has been immensely valuable. At the first steering group on 6th September, industry presented a summary of the key issues including regulation, trade and tariffs, skills and access to funding for research and growth. Since then, subgroups have worked on detailed options for regulation (including MHRA and DExEU); access to finance (led by the BIA); and trade and tariffs (led by DIT LSO) and these were presented back at the second meeting on 23 September. A further meeting is expected before Article 50 is triggered with work continuing on some critical day one issues.

This group agreed that government should drive forward work on a new Life Sciences Strategy alongside the development of the cross government industrial strategy, led by the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy. The industrial strategy will build upon the strengths of the UK to deliver a long-term approach to making the UK the most open and competitive place to do business. We expect a discussion paper on the development of this wider strategy to be published shortly. For the life sciences, it is clear there is a real opportunity, using Brexit as a catalyst, to create a long-term strategic partnership between government and industry, as part of a life sciences strategy.

Professor Sir John Bell has agreed to lead a sector board that will bring together a broad range of interests across industry and the third sector. Sir John’s experience as a clinical academic, NHS leader and board member of several biopharmaceutical companies as well as acting as the PM’s Life Sciences champion and Chair of Office for Strategic Coordination in Health Research (OSCHR) means that he is well placed to bring together a coherent industry offer for a strategic partnership.

John Bell launched this work at the first meeting on 6 December of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy Board, bringing together a range of charities and companies large and small, domestic and international, biopharmaceutical, medical technology and digital health as well as UKRI and HEFCE. The Wellcome Trust is also closely involved in the work and OLS is supporting John Bell on overall coordination of the strategy development, maintaining an overview across the work streams and ensuring outputs come together to form a coherent whole. Please contact Louisa Elias-Evans (louisa.elias-evans@officeforlifesciences.gsi.gov.uk) in the first instance with any questions on the process overall.

Clearly the UK is world-leading in many aspects of life sciences – from our renowned universities, Nobel Prize winners and research capabilities to the 100,000 genome programme and UK Biobank, we also have the best biosciences funding environment in Europe and catapult centres of excellence including in cell therapies. This autumn the government has already announced a further funding round for the biomedical catalyst and an extra £2bn a year investment by the end of 10 January 2017.