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The Golden Age for Life Sciences Innovation

on Wednesday, 29 June 2022.

As we emerge from the political, economic and public health turbulence of the past few years, the UK continues to be at the forefront in driving the life sciences agenda for ground-breaking science, research, technology, engineering and innovation.

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Hailed as 'The Golden Age For Life Sciences Innovation', what's next for the UK?

Speaking at this year’s 13th Pharmaceutical Industry Network Group (PING) Conference, the Minister for Science, Research and Innovation George Freeman MP set the scene in how the UK can begin to now seize the huge global opportunities as a scientific superpower by having enhanced global discovery science alongside a more dynamic domestic innovation economy. It is important, therefore, that there is a shift from a service economy to a science, technology and innovation economy, in order to raise the standards of living across the UK and the world. With £8 billion of Government spend in life sciences research, the Minister emphasised how the next phase of the life sciences strategy will need to "focus on the disease missions so we close the gap between research and adoption", ensure effective and efficient integration between research and innovation, as well as urgently look to maximise on the "competitive landscape…associated technology, and the scale up of companies and adoption of their technology into the NHS."

To accelerate the next phase of UK life sciences innovation, the world-class UK health technology assessor, NICE, has had to evolve and it set out how in its five year strategy. With increased pace, agility and a focus on the new digital pathways, NICE is set on undertaking more rapid and modular evaluation of new and emerging products supported by data and reaching healthcare professionals quicker in order to meet patients' needs. NICE's Chief Executive Dr Samantha Roberts explained to the Conference that the three key areas of NICE's focus for the immediate future were to: maximise the most cutting-edge healthcare; rapidly and robustly translate existing guidelines into useful and useable advice; and purposefully influence the system by being embedded in it in order to adopt the best possible care. Samantha concluded: “I was delighted to be a part of this year’s PING Conference to share NICE’s vision for the future and how we intend to evolve as an organisation to drive innovation into the hands of health and care professionals and bring the best possible care for patients."

The NHS As a Crucial Place For Innovation

In order to achieve better health outcomes and improve quality of life, all research and data must be embedded into the NHS to streamline the adoptions of new innovations, new treatments and diagnostics to transform care. Matthew Whitty, Director of Innovation, Research & Life Sciences at NHS England & Improvement, and Chief Executive of the Accelerated Access Collaborative (the AAC), described how the AAC has brought together innovators, regulators, industry, Government and the NHS to help patients get quicker access to treatments. 

The AAC is focusing on five ways to do this: (1) improving demand signalling and horizon scanning, aiming to match their systematic search to solutions for patients’ needs; (2) continuing to be one of the best places in the world for research; (3) improving funding flows; (4) getting better at adopting and spreading NICE-approved medical diagnostics; and (5) running a range of education programmes around the adoption of innovation.

Meanwhile, having been a global leader in genomics with Genomics England's 100,000 Genomes Project and Biobank, the UK has embarked on another exciting data project which can again be a world leader - this time on health data - to help to achieve the holy grail in better predictability of disease before it happens. World-class UK health research programmes are the crucial backbone in making the NHS one of the most pro-innovation health systems in the world, as was seen with the discovery during the COVID-19 RECOVERY trial that the cheap steroid, dexamethasone, could reduce the intensive care deaths - something that has saved over one million lives across the world. Now, a rapidly growing new project, Our Future Health, is recruiting five million people in the NHS to discover and map a variety of their health data to ascertain what is likely to lead to certain diseases developing early on. Our Future Health's Chief Executive Officer Dr Andrew Roddam, said: “By building a world-leading health research resource that truly reflects the UK population our goal is to develop a more detailed understanding of what makes some people more likely to develop certain health conditions, so more effective tests and treatments can be developed in the future.”


The Government now wants to build on the financial centre of the City to enable more investment into fast-growing life sciences companies. Two of the UK's leading institutional investors Tim Rea, Head of Early Stage Investments at BGF, and Alun Williams, Investment Director at Parkwalk Advisors, concluded the Conference by sharing their thoughts on how fast-growing innovative life sciences companies can fund their growth and make themselves an attractive investment to ensure UK continues to be the global leader in the industry.

Alun mentioned that “it was particularly uplifting to see the joined-up nature of strategic thinking and actions across Government, public and private sectors addressing the Life Sciences. This will be crucial in the coming period, as we face the financial and commercial headwinds discussed in our investor session.”

Tim added that "it was fantastic to see the level of support on offer to UK companies in terms of accelerated access via NHS programmes, technology assessment support from NICE and we are particularly hopeful that the UK will become an effective launchpad for globally successful companies."

Summing up the PING Conference 2022

VWV's PING Chair and Partner and Head of Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences sector, Paul Gershlick, concluded:

"Attendees at this year's Conference commented on how inspirational the speakers were. The UK has unique attributes with leading academic institutions, a mature and entrepreneurial life sciences industry, and a single healthcare system. The UK led the scientific fightback against the COVID-19 pandemic, and its unique environment bodes well for the future. This is a really exciting time, with NICE, the Accelerated Access Collaborative and Our Future Health leading the way. It was exciting to hear at the Conference how this is really a Golden Age for Life Sciences Innovation in the UK."

Mark Bretton, Chair of the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership & The LEP Network, said:

“Hertfordshire LEP is very proud of its long association with PING - it sends out a clear message that Hertfordshire and the UK is a very attractive place for our diverse industry to grow. As this Conference attests, this truly is The Golden Age for Life Sciences Innovation in the UK and Hertfordshire is at the epi-centre of this growth. This didn’t happen by chance, and is testament to the business environment we have all worked hard to help create. We will continue to work with businesses to help them realise their ambitions and bring opportunities to our local people and communities.”

For more information about the Pharmaceutical Industry Network Group (PING) and Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences Law, please contact Paul Gershlick on 07795 570 072, or complete the form below.

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