A strategy board charged with promoting national expertise in the life sciences has been unveiled in the UK.

The UK LifeScience Marketing Strategy Implementation Board, which is meeting for the first time this week, was announced by Trade and Investment Minister Lord Digby Jones. It is integral to the marketing strategy launched by Lord Digby Jones last November in an effort to maintain the UK as a global hub of life sciences research and development (R&D) in the face of intense global competition.

The Board is chaired by Chris Brinsmead, president of AstraZeneca UK, and includes an assortment of representatives from industry, government and the entrepreneurial sector.

Representing government are Robert Driver of UK Trade and Investment; Chris Francis, chair of the UK Trade and Investment Healthcare Sector Advisory Group and director of the UK India Business Council; Dr Felicity Harvey, head of medicines at the Department of Health’s pharmacy and industry steering group; and Sarah Haywood, director of the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform’s Bioscience Unit.

The business members of the new board are Kevin Cox, former president of Avecia; Professor Mark Ferguson, co-founder and chief executive officer of Renovo; Dr Jeremy Haigh, vice president and international chief operating officer, research and development for Amgen; Andrew Hotchkiss, UK managing director, Eli Lilly; George Kennedy, chairman of Eschmann Equipment; Andrew Richards, biotechnology entrepreneur and business angel; and Roy Johnson, medical device and healthcare entrepreneur.

The board’s responsibilities include looking at which international territories present the best opportunities for UK business in the life sciences and developing a common marketing charter to help promote the sector “consistently and persuasively” around the world. The board members will also encourage partnership and resource-sharing between business, trade associations, cluster and research organisations, universities and government to sell the UK’s strengths as the location of choice for inward investors in the life sciences.

“In the UK our pharmaceutical, healthcare and biotechnology businesses are hugely creative and dynamic with a long tradition of success,” Brinsmead commented. “We are rightly number one in Europe, but in a world where business can invest anywhere around the globe, we have to work even harder to protect our status as a centre for R&D innovation for the future.”
"The strategy presents an excellent opportunity for us to really show our strengths to the world. Our role, as the Board, will be pivotal in directing the next critical phase of strategy development, and its ongoing implementation.”

As the government pointed out, the UK already occupies an “enviable position” in the life sciences, with the healthcare sector alone worth £120 billion in 2006. In the same year, the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors combined were the leading investor in R&D in the UK, stepping up their contribution to the overall spend of £21 billion by 10.5%.