GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca have announced significant investment in the UK as part of the government’s sector deal for the life sciences industry.
GSK said it would stream £40 million of new money into initiatives that harness advances in genetic research in the development of novel medicines.
The investment will support the sequencing of data from all 500,000 volunteer participants in the UK Biobank, beyond the first 50,000 subset announced earlier this year.
The funding will also bolster GSK’s ‘Open Targets’ collaboration with the European Bioinformatics Institute, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Biogen and Takeda, set up in to make genetic and biological data openly available to help researchers identify and prioritise new targets for developing future medicines.
AstraZeneca, which is investing of £500 million in its new strategic R&D centre and global headquarters in Cambridge, is also among 25 organisations from across the sector and supported by government that are investing in the UK, ensuring that the country is at the forefront of developing new innovative treatments and medical technologies that improve patient lives.
Also included is a major investment by global healthcare firm MSD, which plans to establish a new world-leading life sciences discovery research facility and headquarters in the UK, supporting 950 jobs including 150 new high-skilled and high-value research roles.
“Our new site will combine MSD’s powerful and proven R&D engine with the cutting edge technologies and deep discovery capabilities afforded by the biomedical research community in the golden triangle of London-Oxford-Cambridge as well as access to the continental European life science ecosystem,” said Roger Perlmutter, president of MSD Research Laboratories.
The Life Sciences Sector Deal sets out an agreed strategic vision, built on co-investment, “that will modernise the industry, boost businesses large and small within it, and ensure the sector is perfectly positioned to respond to the challenges and opportunities of demographic change and pioneering research and development,” the government said.
The deal sets out a plan for the sector going forward, “with a vision and strategy that are aligned to the pillars of the Industrial Strategy and the themes of Sir John Bell’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy.”
Its key themes are: building on the UK’s position as a world leader in biomedical discovery with major inward investments; to grow the UK’s international reputation for pioneering early diagnostics and genomics programme, with a government investment from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund of up to £210 million; ensuring that the UK leads the world with its clinical trials, through innovative new trials platforms and investments in the country’s digital evidence collection abilities; and to develop innovative medicines manufacturing infrastructure and enable SMEs to manufacture advanced therapies, supported by a government commitment of £162 million via the Industrial Challenge Fund.
The announcements “are a great start towards industry and government working together to deliver the long-term strategic roadmap set out in the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy,” said Mike Thompson, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.
“These are smart investments for the future that acknowledge the government’s willingness to build upon the UK’s global strength in R&D, our leadership in new technologies such as genomic medicine and the potential that exists in making the best use of health data.”
Also commenting on the deal, Phil Thomson, president of Global Affairs at GSK, said: “The UK has a world class life sciences sector, but that will only continue to thrive through a strong partnership of Government, industry and academia. This Sector Deal contains a number of very practical commitments to strengthen the UK’s life science base and make it more attractive to international investment in areas such as clinical trials and high-tech research. Ultimately, this should provide benefits to the economy and create jobs.”