On 26th May, the government announced ‘a £650 million war-chest to fire up the UK’s life sciences sector’ but what’s the reality behind the rhetoric?

We’ve distilled the key take-home messages behind the headlines to provide you with 10 points you need to know about how this funding will benefit the life science sector.

  1. Support for UK-based Clinical Trials

£121 million (made up of new and existing funding) will be put towards improving commercial clinical trials. This involves establishing a clinical trial directory and clinical trial acceleration networks to improve access to real-time data.

  1. Investment in UK Manufacturing with a Focus on Preventing Future Healthcare Emergencies

A number of funds will contribute towards improving the UK’s life science manufacturing capabilities, with a focus on preparing for future health emergencies.

  • A biomanufacturing fund of up to £38 million will go towards grants for projects aiming to improve the UK’s resilience to future pandemics.
  • A further £6.5 million (new funding and Innovate UK funding) will go towards developing the skills needed for this work.
  • Innovate UK’s Transforming Medicines Manufacturing Programme will provide £10 million to fund innovations in medicine manufacturing that support the UK’s health resilience, such as projects involving nucleic acid technology and intracellular drug delivery to improve vaccines.
  1. An Increase in Biobank Capacity

£154 million will go towards increasing the capacity of the UK’s biological data bank by creating a new facility at Manchester Science Park. This investment is predicted to quadruple sample throughput.

  1. Incentives for Pensions Schemes Investment

Up to £250 million will go toward incentivising pension schemes to invest in promising science and technology firms. This is hoped to both drive the growth of these sectors and benefit retirement incomes.

  1. Improved Networks for Better Collaboration

The Academic Health Science Network will be relaunched and rebranded as the Health Innovation Networks, with the aim to better connect the NHS, local communities, charities, academia, and industry. The networks will focus on working with local partners so that innovation is identified and adopted to meet the needs of specific local communities.   

  1. Easier Lab Space Availability

Changes to local planning rules will make it easier to free-up lab space. Local authorities will be given greater responsibility for their R&D needs, and R&D considerations will be factored into planning decisions. The Planning Practice Guidance will be updated through work with stakeholders to help local authorities make proactive decisions.  

  1. New Transport Links Between Oxford and Cambridge

As science innovation hotspots, Oxford and Cambridge will be better connected by an updated route for the East West Rail (EWR) – a new railway line.

  1. Reduced Regulatory Burdens

Regulations around approving clinical trials will be streamlined, and Centres of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (CERSIs) will be established to help regulators access new skills and expertise surrounding the latest advances.

  1. A Smoother Pathway for MedTech Innovation

An end-to-end MedTech pathway will be developed to help MedTech innovations reach the clinic. This includes the Innovative Devices Access Pathway which supports MedTech developers in generating the evidence they need for regulatory approval and NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) assessment.

  1. Funding for Research into Mental Health & Addiction Treatments

£42.7 million of Mental Health Mission funding will go towards a centre in Liverpool researching links between mental, physical and social conditions, and a site in Birmingham researching new treatments for early intervention in psychosis, depression, and child mental health issues. £10 million of Addiction Mission funding will support the UK in developing novel pharmaceuticals, MedTech, and digital tools to treat opioid and cocaine addictions.

For more details, read the full government announcement here.

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Photo of Sophie Protheroe