The Biochemical Society welcomes today’s launch of the Life Sciences Sector Deal 2. This follows the publication of the first Life Sciences Sector Deal in 2017, led by Professor Sir John Bell, which set out proposals to help the UK’s life sciences sector become an international benchmark for success.
The second Life Sciences Sector Deal, published today, forms another key output from the Government’s Industrial Strategy announced last year. Included within the report are a number of key commitments, including:
Ideas – Government will commit up to £79m for the Accelerating Detection of Disease challenge, bringing together UKRI, health charities, industry and the NHS. A further £50m, will be invested in the government’s digital pathology and radiology programme. In genomics there is a commitment to sequencing at least one million whole genomes over the next five years.
People – There will be greater flexibility in the use of the apprenticeship levy to support the uptake of life sciences apprenticeships. A 2030 Skills Strategy will be developed, building an evidence base of the status of life science skills and future scenarios to 2030, focusing on medicines manufacturing for established medicines and advanced therapies as well as other emerging technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), to identify what is needed in addition to current available training provision.
Infrastructure – UK health data infrastructure will be supported through the implementation of Digital Innovation Hubs and measures to expand digitally-enabled clinical research.
Business Environment – Through a strengthened Accelerated Access Collaborative, Government will build a stronger innovation ecosystem and improved patient access to innovations. The government will work with the MHRA to ensure the UK regulator framework keeps pace with emerging technology developments.
Places – Government will renew its offer of Life Sciences Opportunity Zone status to help areas raise their profile at an international level.
Responding to the publication of the second Life Sciences Sector Deal, Professor Sir Pete Downes, President of the Biochemical Society, said:
The UK is a world leader in life sciences. We are pleased to see the key commitments set out in today’s Life Sciences Sector Deal 2, which will support the molecular biosciences community and others across life sciences in continuing to make advances in this area. In particular we welcome the commitment to £79m for the Accelerating Detection of Disease Challenge as well as the increased focus on improving the uptake of life sciences apprenticeships and the proposed development of a 2030 Skills Strategy. A strong pipeline of future life scientists will be crucial to the success of the Industrial Strategy, attracting young people into the breadth of careers available in our sector and ensuring that we have the science skills essential for growth.
With the UK shortly due to leave the EU, facilitating collaboration both within the UK and with international partners will be of paramount importance in supporting the future of the life sciences sector. It is crucial that UK regulatory frameworks keep pace with emerging developments in medicines and technologies and we welcome the government’s commitment to working with the MHRA in this area and positioning the MHRA as a world leading, forward thinking regulator for genomic medicine. This will be vital in allowing clinical trials to run in a way that facilitates the wider role out of precision medicine in the NHS. The ambition of the NHS to offer whole genome sequencing as part of routine care, coupled with the recognition of increased need to keep pace with data driven technologies by the MHRA will provide valuable support to the process of innovative application of genomic medicine.
We look forward to the delivery of the commitments set out in today’s report and encourage the Government to ensure that it is also addressing areas of the Life Sciences sector that are not included within this or the previous sector deal, such as food, agriculture and biofuels.
A factsheet on the Life Sciences Sector Deal 2 can be found here