Chancellor reveals life sciences growth package to fire up economy

Life-Sci for Growth package of measures accounced at No.10 meeting

£650m to fire up the UK’s life sciences sector and drive forward economic growth has been unveiled by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt on 25 May 2023.

The ‘Life Sci for Growth’ package brings together 10 different policies including £121m to improve commercial clinical trials to bring new medicines to patients faster, up to £48m of new money for scientific innovation to prepare for any future health emergencies, £154m to increase the capacity of the UK’s biological data bank further aiding scientific discoveries that help human health, and up to £250m to incentivise pension schemes to invest in our most promising science and tech firms.

The Chancellor’s announcements also includes plans to relaunch the Academic Health Science Network as Health Innovation Networks to boost innovation by bringing together the NHS, local communities, charities, academia and industry to share best practice. It also lays out changes to planning rules to free-up lab space and updates a route for East West Rail (EWR), the new railway line, to improve connections between UK science powerhouses Oxford and Cambridge, bringing more investment to the region.

The announcement recognises Life Sciences is one of the UK’s most successful sectors, worth over £94bn to the UK economy in 2021, a 9% increase on the year before. As a key industry driving UK growth the Chancellor has identified it as a focus for government. The package is also positioned to help to deliver the Science and Technology framework through reforming regulation, boosting investment and driving up talent and skills.

Announcing the package, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said:
Our Life Sciences sector employs over 280,000 people, makes £94bn for the UK each year and produced the world’s first covid vaccine.  These are businesses that are growing our economy while having much wider benefits for our health – and this multi-million pound investment will help them go even further.

The announcements improve the regulatory environment for Life Sciences companies and the approach to UK commercial clinical trials. As part of this, the Chancellor has committed to make it easier for revolutionary healthcare products to get to NHS patients by cutting the regulatory burden of approving clinical trials, and committed £121m, made up of new and existing funding, to speed up clinical trials and improve access to real-time data via new Clinical Trial Acceleration Networks. This comes in response to publications of the Lord O’Shaughnessy review on commercial clinical trials and Dame Angela McLean’s review on the life science regulatory system.

‘Life Sci For Growth’ also commits to invest £154m from UK Research and Innovation to upgrade the UK Biobank capabilities, the biomedical database containing the in-depth genetic information of half a million UK citizens.

A call for proposals will shortly be released on the government’s Long-Term Investment for Technology and Science (LIFTS) – a topic discussed at Advanced Oxford and ARC Oxford’s Future of Funding event, which also took place yesterday.  This initiative will offer £250m of government support to spur the creation of new vehicles for pension schemes to invest in the UK’s high-growth science and technology businesses.

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