The government has published the second Life Sciences Sector Deal, detailing both public and private sector investments into the sector, including a £1 billion investment in UK research and development (R&D) by UCB.
Highlights from the new deal include: a £75-million programme to develop new diagnostic tests by using artificial intelligence to study a group of 5 million healthy people; a world-first commitment to sequence one million whole genomes; a £1-billion investment by UCB; a £50-million investment for digital pathology programmes; and £37.5 million in funding for a network of regional Digital Innovation Hubs.
“This is our modern Industrial Strategy in action as we work hand in hand with industry to ensure the UK remains the go-to destination for launching new businesses, new discoveries and treatments to benefit health around the world,” said business secretary Greg Clark.
The National Institute for Health Research has welcomed the deal, which, it notes, includes commitments from both the government and the life sciences industry to continue to significantly invest in the health research areas that provide the greatest opportunity for the UK.
As part of the deal, the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) will identify five centres to become dedicated late-phase commercial research sites, which will offer rapid set-up, standardised contracting and delivery approaches as well as dedicated staff and facilities.
The NIHR said it will also provide support to IQVIA, as it invests £24 million over the next five years in a Prime Site for clinical trials across the North of England as part of the deal.
“These centres will increase the UK’s capacity to deliver research and enable more patients to benefit from early access to new treatments and innovations” said Jonathan Sheffield, chief executive of the NIHR CRN.
The announcement “guarantees that UK patients will continue to have the opportunity to take part in life changing research, not just for the themselves but for future generations to come.”
IQVIA’s UK investment package also includes a new five-year partnership with Genomics England that aims to develop services to speed up clinical research.
“The UK life sciences sector continues to go from strength to strength,” said Steve Bates, chief executive of the BioIndustry Association. “One year on from the first ever sector deal agreed between government and an industry sector, it is great to see the sustained importance that the UK government places on the UK life sciences sector as an engine for the country’s future growth.”
UCB’s major investment centers on a new research and development facility in the UK, which will include the building of a new £150-200 million, purpose built facility that will support around 650 high-skilled jobs, mainly in scientific research and early manufacturing.
The new state-of-the-art facility will allow for cutting edge research to develop innovative treatments for patients, and also house an early manufacturing facility and a hub for UK commercial operations, the firm noted.
The commitment, it says, will help ensure new pioneering treatments and medical technologies are produced in the UK, improving patient lives and driving economic growth.
“At UCB, we are proud of our heritage in the UK and I am very pleased to announce our planned investment to support the construction of a major R&D hub in the UK, which will enable us to build upon our numerous active collaborations with UK universities, biotechs and medical research charities and continue our successful track record of bringing innovative medicines discovered in the UK to patients globally,” said Jean-Christophe Tellier, UCB’s chief executive.