MP welcomes £650 million investment in Life Sciences to help cut NHS waiting times, improve commercial clinical trials and boost innovation

Simon Fell MP has welcomed the news that £650 million will be invested in the UK’s Life Science sector. This will include an ambitious life sciences package to help cut NHS waiting times, improve commercial clinical trials and bring new medicines to patients faster.

Commenting, Simon said:

“As Chair of the GSK Taskforce, I warmly welcome this investment in Life Sciences. The pandemic has shown why early investment in research and skills is so important. Without the UK’s thriving life sciences sector I dread to think what the impact of COVID may have been – if nothing else our access to vaccines would have come much, much slower. Within this announcement is £54million which may be of use to Ulverston and delivering on the vision of the GSK Taskforce – I am meeting the Minister in the coming weeks to discuss the opportunities.”

 ‘Life Sci for Growth’ 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

  • Up to £250m to incentivise pension schemes to invest in our most promising science and tech firms

Bringing life-saving medicines and treatments to patients faster

The government’s £650m package 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.

Building the UK’s resilience for future health emergencies

The manufacturing arm of the UK’s life sciences sector is also set for a funding boost thanks to three new pots to bolster the country’s health resilience. A Biomanufacturing Fund worth up to £38m in new funding has been announced to incentivise investment and improve the UK’s resilience to any future pandemics, via a competitive process to distribute grants. This comes on top of a further £6.5m made up of new funding and funding from Innovate UK, to ensure that the Life Sciences sector continues to have the right people it needs to deliver its high skilled work. £10m new cash has also been announced to fund projects to drive innovation in cutting edge medicine manufacturing that can bolster the UK’s health resilience, such as those used to improve vaccines.

Boosting research for better mental health treatments

As part of the government’s ambition to put mental health on equal footing with physical health, it is investing £42.7m for the Mental Health Mission. This will go towards delivering treatments to patients, setting up a new centre in Liverpool to understand how mental, physical and social conditions interlink, and a site in Birmingham to support research and novel treatments for early intervention in psychosis, depression and children. £10m will go to support UK organisations and researchers to create novel pharmaceuticals, MedTech, and digital tools to improve treatment and aid recovery for people with opioid and cocaine addictions.

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, ensuring regulation aids innovation, government funding is targeted at vital projects and investment is diverse. This also helps to deliver the Science and Technology framework through reforming regulation, boosting investment and driving up talent and skills.

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said:

“This investment is another significant step in harnessing UK innovation to help cut waiting lists - one of the government’s five priorities – and build a stronger NHS.

 “We will take forward Lord O’Shaughnessy’s recommendations to speed up the delivery of clinical trials and boost patient involvement in research, so people getting NHS care can benefit from cutting-edge treatments faster, supported by £121 million in government funding.

“We’re also accelerating research into mental health, backed by over £42 million of investment in clinical research centres across the UK – including in Birmingham and Liverpool – to improve the speed and accuracy of diagnosis and increase the use of technology for treatment.”

Steve Bates OBE, CEO of Bioindustry Association, said:

“Today’s package of support for the UK life sciences sector will help address fundamental challenges large and small companies in our industry face as they look to invest and grow in the UK.

“We welcome today’s initiatives, including those that will improve access to finance for start-ups and scale-ups, and to create a pro-innovation regulatory environment. These positive steps will put us on the front-foot in the global race to develop and manufacture the next generation of medicines and technologies,  underpinning our economic growth and better health for years to come.”

Richard Torbett, Chief Executive, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), said:

“Today’s announcements show that the government recognises the huge opportunity waiting to be grasped if the UK can unlock the economic potential of its life science industry – already worth £94.2bn in 2021. These measures demonstrate the government has listened to industry and will help put the UK on track to meeting its life science vision.

“Lord O’Shaughnessy is right that making the UK an attractive destination for industry clinical trials requires regulatory reform, speedier study set-up and approvals, and improved access to data. Implementing his proposals, alongside these other announcements, can be a springboard to delivering on the UK’s ambition to be a science superpower, and we now must press forward with delivery at pace.

“However, improving research is only one part of the equation. To get innovative medicines to patients and fully capture the growth opportunity, we must also fix the commercial environment, and for that, we also look forward to agreeing with Government to a new and improved Voluntary Scheme as soon as possible.”

Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI) CEO, Peter Ellingworth said:

“Today’s range of announcements and their emphasis on HealthTech are very welcome. I am pleased to see that the contribution of our industry has been acknowledged in each of them.

Critical for the continued supply of technology to NHS patients and the competitiveness of our country, will be the approach taken to the regulation of medical devices and diagnostics. This was recognised last year by the Life Sciences Council and led to the creation of an Advisory Group. Today builds on that group’s aligned proposals published in March, and the Chancellor’s ambition for the recognition of approvals from other, trusted jurisdictions.

Collectively, this package represents significant progress to create a system that values innovation and affords our citizens safe, timely access to life saving and enhancing technology.

We look forward to continuing to support the work of the LSC Advisory Group, and helping to deliver the recommendations of the Pro-Innovation Regulation of Technologies Review, through initiatives such as secondments to a Regulator with an enhanced and welcome focus on HealthTech.”

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