The government and businesses in the UK have come up with a new marketing strategy to ensure that the country’s life sciences sector keeps its prominent position in the global arena.

Launching the new strategy, Lord Digby Jones, Minister of State for Trade and Investment, said that, as a global centre of life science creativity, the UK “punches well above its weight” in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors.

Furthermore, in terms of investment, the UK leads in Europe and is second only to the USA on the world stage, and the pharmaceutical industry alone added over £12 billion to UK exports last year, he added.

Explaining the drive for a louder marketing voice, Lord Digby said that, to stay ahead, the opportunities being offered by the new technologies in the UK need to be exploited. “Global competition in the life science sectors is intense and growing and we need to ensure we are among the first to make in-roads into emerging markets like China and India,” he stressed.

The new marketing strategy sets a clear battle plan to help tout the country as a favourable life sciences environment, with the first step setting up a marketing strategy board of business and government leaders who will be responsible for rolling out the new marketing initiatives. This board is expected to be in place by spring next year.

In addition, a shared marketing charter will be developed, to assist both the government and industry sell the UK’s life sciences arena “consistently and persuasively around the world” to potential buyers, partners or investors, and marketing campaigns will be put together for each of the three individual sectors.

Pooling resources
Finally, the strategy aims to pull together the resources of businesses, trade associations, research organisations, universities and the government to help convince inward investors that the UK offers exciting opportunities in a top-level life sciences environment.

“By working together we hope to create an exciting and inspiring platform for the life science industries - one which is coherent, professional and joined up,” Lord Digby concluded.

Both the government and industry seem to be throwing a closer look at keeping the UK a first-class destination for life sciences, with several different initiatives announced over the last few months designed to keep the engine running.

Last month, the government unveiled plans for a new science diploma to encourage a science career for students who might not have necessarily considered one, and boost the amount of fresh talent flowing into the research-based pharmaceutical industry.

The move followed a report on science and innovation in the UK by Lord Sainsbury, which was heavily focused on providing a more fertile ground for innovation in the UK and improving science and technology skills to help build a strong science-based economy.

In response to the report, the government promised a new, detailed strategy for science and innovation in the UK and committed funding of £1 billion over the next three years to a programme led by the Technology Strategy Board that aims to foster business innovation and technology development.

Access to innovation
And then there was Health Minister Lord Darzi’s interim report on the future of the National Health Service, in which he stressed his wish to see the UK as a world leader in pharmaceutical and medical technology R&D and facilitate patients’ access to the latest health innovations.

The Biosciences Federation and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry also proposed an action plan to entice more students into developing animal research-based skills.

“The future of medicines development in this country depends to a large extent on having people with the right in vivo skills. Significant progress has already been made through joint public and private sector working, and we all need to work in partnership so that the UK can retain its historical strengths in this area,” said Dr Richard Barker, Director General of the ABPI, at the time.