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Positive Progress for the UK's Life Sciences Industrial Strategy

on Thursday, 13 February 2020.

The government has published a report on progress since the 2017 Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, which was put forward as an ambitious vision for the UK in life sciences, around the areas of pharma, biotech, medtech, digital and diagnostics.

It included looking at areas where the UK had a unique advantage, such as world-leading universities, NHS data, businesses located in the UK already and the associated skills base, setting leading regulatory positions, and future plans in innovative new areas.

An Upbeat Assessment

Professor Sir John Bell, the Oxford University Professor who was the Strategy's author, has provided an update on progress. He reported that a substantial majority of the objectives in the Strategy have now been met and more are now being delivered.

In an upbeat assessment, Professor Bell praises the recently elected government's focus on supporting life sciences as a key sector, and the new projects that are being delivered. This includes:

  • an expansion in areas such as genomics, where the UK is leading the way
  • having some of the richest healthcare and research datasets worldwide
  • having some of the strongest and most innovative data and AI companies.

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Preparing for the Future

In genomics, the report says a new National Genomic Healthcare Strategy has been created, which will be announced in the next few weeks. This will publish the strategy which maps out the UK genomics offer and sets out a clear, unified direction of travel that builds on the UK's investments so far. This will enable the genomics industry to coalesce around the UK's world leading genomics assets to drive forward innovation. The strategy will set out how the UK will use the next ten years to further build on its reputation as a world leader in genomic healthcare, focusing on three areas:

  • Diagnosis and personalised medicine - This will set out how the UK will bring genomic advances into routine healthcare, meaning patients are diagnosed earlier and more accurately, improving outcomes.

  • Genomics’ potential in prevention - The UK will use the advances in genomics to improve predictive and preventative healthcare, screening programmes and public health.

  • Mapping out the research landscape - This will set out support for research, to ensure a seamless interface between research and healthcare delivery, maximising opportunities for patients to benefit from genomic discoveries.

The strategy will be underpinned by vital cross cutting themes on engagement and maintaining trust, growing and training the workforce in the UK, driving forward the UK's genomics industry and supporting large-scale data and bioinformatics analysis.

Catapulting the UK Forward

The update also reports on the success and extra investment in the UK's advanced therapies, including £71m of additional funding to further develop the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult. This is a centre of excellence that is driving growth of the industry, by helping cell and gene therapy organisations across the world translate early stage research into commercially viable therapies. The Catapult is up and running and already achieving great things - providing clinical trial, technical, manufacturing, regulatory and market access expertise for industry and researchers.

The report adds that the NHS is the first health system in Europe to agree access to CAR-T treatments - a major advance in personalised medicine.


At VWV, we are holding our annual PING Conference in June on Britain's leading life sciences role in genomics, personalised medicine and artificial intelligence. We have a great list of thought-leading speakers in these areas. One of the speakers is Joanne Hackett, Chief Commercial Officer at Genomics England, who will be sharing an update on the Genomics England projects and her vision for the commercial opportunities. Others include leading people in these fields at Deloitte, Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, Benevolent AI, Healx, Congenica and others.

With the National Genomic Healthcare Strategy being due to be announced shortly, the timing of the Conference will be useful for everyone in the sector who wants to be ahead of the game and hearing about the future opportunities in the UK in life sciences.

If you would like to be invited to attend the PING Conference, please let me know. Please contact Paul Gershlick in our Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences team on 01923 919 320, or complete the form below.


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