Backed by heritage, ready for the future


Uncovering the structure of DNA. Inventing in-vitro fertilization and facilitating the birth of the world’s
first test-tube baby. Developing the first antibiotics and vaccines. With breakthroughs such as these, the UK’s
life sciences sector has traditionally punched above its weight on the world stage.

Today, its inventive flair remains strong. “The UK life sciences sector is genuinely world-leading,
revolutionizing health care and propelling our economy forward,” says Andrew Griffith, the UK’s Minister of
State in the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology. “Companies like AstraZeneca developed one of the
world’s first COVID-19 vaccines, while GSK continues to pioneer groundbreaking treatments for cancer and HIV.”

Not only have these advances benefited people at home, but they have also saved and transformed lives across the
world. It all stems from the diversity of businesses represented within life sciences—a dynamic, collaborative,
and forward-thinking sector, fusing science, innovation, and technology to solve the most pressing global
health-care challenges of our time.

One of the reasons the UK’s life sciences sector is a pioneer is strong government support. “Our prowess in
attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) is evident; in 2022 alone, we saw £1 billion for life sciences from
47 greenfield FDI projects,” says Minister Griffith.

This support comes in numerous forms, from talent programs and favorable R&D policies to investment advice and
tax incentives.
Life sciences equity financing
increased sixfold from 2012 to 2022, luring the most equity finance within Europe. The Advanced Research
Invention Agency, established in 2021, received £800 million to identify and fund “high-risk, high-reward”
scientific research.

In 2022, the UK government announced it will increase its total R&D expenditure to £20
billion
per annum by
2024–2025, marking a 33% increase in spending over the current parliament. The government allocated even more
funding in May 2023, when Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt unveiled a £650 million “war chest” to form
the Life Sciences Growth Package. It brings together new policies and funding across various high-impact
areas—including a £38 million biomanufacturing fund and £154 million for upgrading the UK Biobank, a
world-leading resource for biomedical research.

Additionally, there’s the Life
Sciences Innovative Manufacturing Fund.
Part of the Global Britain Investment
Fund, it sets aside £60 million in capital grants for investments in pharmaceutical production, medical
diagnostics, and medical technology (MedTech) products. The first tranche was awarded in 2023 to four
companies
,
which received £17 million in government funding and an additional private investment of £260 million.

“This vibrant ecosystem, fostered by initiatives like the Life Sciences Growth Package and our Life Sciences
Innovative Manufacturing Fund, is creating high-skilled jobs across the country, from research labs in Cambridge
to manufacturing plants in Manchester,” Minister Griffith says. The first tranche alone was responsible for
creating 320 jobs and safeguarding another 199.


“This vibrant ecosystem, fostered by initiatives like the Life Sciences Growth Package and our Life
Sciences
Innovative Manufacturing Fund, is creating high-skilled jobs across the country, from research labs in
Cambridge
to manufacturing plants in Manchester.”

Andrew Griffith, Minister of State, UK Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology


Life Sciences Investment Programme (LSIP)
Launched in 2021, this £200-million sector-specific initiative is managed by British Patient Capital (BPC), the
UK’s largest domestic investor in startups and venture growth opportunities. The investment firm has more than
£3 billion of assets under management. In January 2023, BPC announced its first LSIP commitment of $48.6 million
for SV Health Investors’ SV Biotech Crossover Opportunities Fund.

Aside from funds, the UK government supports international businesses investing in the country. Sector
specialists and investment experts at the Department for Business and Trade play a crucial role to support
international investors and facilitate seamless business expansion after landing. These experts provide
information on financial and tax incentives, specialist domestic partners, and in-depth advice on the business
environment.

Government support, however, is only one part of the equation. With two of the top five universities for
biological sciences in the world—the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford—the UK has a solid
foundation for life science innovation.

There is also significant talent within STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics)disciplines.
STEM students accounted for 23% of total graduates in the UK in 2021, according to the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development.
The figure has continued to rise as the UK’s Department of Education noted that more young people are taking
STEM subjects than ever before.

Moreover, the UK has long been home to a strong pharmaceutical industry. For example, GSK can trace its history
back to 1715 and now has nine manufacturing sites in the UK. AstraZeneca, which was formed after a merger
between British and Swedish companies in 1999, bases its global headquarters in Cambridge.

This has culminated in a thriving life sciences sector. “Over 300,000 people are already employed in this
sector, contributing £108 billion to the UK economy, and the future looks even brighter, thanks to the
government’s unequivocal backing, supported by close collaboration with the UK’s health service and world-class
university sector,” says Minister Griffith.

Consistent government investment has laid the foundation for a genomics industry, bolstering the country’s
strong life sciences, bioinformatics, and IT industries.

The establishment of
Genomics England
in 2013 to deliver the world-first 100,000 Genomes Project shows the government’s commitment to accelerate
growth in the sector. Genomics England, in partnership with the National Health Service (NHS), sequenced the
genomes of 85,000 participants and their family members, which led to groundbreaking insights and advances for
the treatment of rare diseases and cancer. In December 2022, the government announced over £150 million in
additional funding for

three new research programs by Genomics England. They include a world-first study to evaluate the feasibility of
using whole genome sequencing in newborn screening.

At the same time, the UK is also home to one of the world’s largest MedTech sectors, with over
4,000
facilities.
These companies generate an annual turnover of around £34
billion
, making everything from basic equipment like
syringes to more complicated devices like robotic arms. Given its potential to drive revenue while delivering
beneficial outcomes for patients, MedTech is one of the government’s areas of focus for support.

Another factor that has enabled the UK to emerge as a leader in life sciences R&D is the NHS, one of the world’s
first universal health-care systems. But what makes this system particularly unique and advantageous for life
sciences research? Part of it comes down to access to data.

The NHS also boasts a longstanding and robust history of collaboration with academia and industry, which
supports long-term and broad scientific patient studies that can spur innovation and elevate understanding about
how diseases occur.

The UK’s life sciences industry has grown over the past decades thanks to a combination of heritage,
collaboration, and deliberate support from its institutions, as well as its population. With a strong foundation
now set, the country is reinforcing these efforts to ensure this trajectory will continue.

“Beyond innovation, the UK life sciences sector plays a vital role in improving public health both here and
abroad,” says Minister Griffith. “Companies like Oxford BioMedica are working on next-generation gene therapies,
while Qiagen provides essential tools for genetic testing. These advancements have the potential to diagnose
diseases earlier, personalize treatments, and ultimately save lives.”



“Companies like Oxford BioMedica are working on next-generation gene therapies, while Qiagen provides
essential
tools for genetic testing. These advancements have the potential to diagnose diseases earlier, personalize
treatments, and ultimately save lives.”

Andrew Griffith, Minister of State, UK Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology



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