Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has announced new funding for genomics projects and data-driven initiatives as part of plans to ‘transform’ the UK life sciences industry.

Hancock revealed the government’s plans for the UK life sciences sector during the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry’s (ABPI) Annual Conference yesterday.

The plans set out the government’s aims to ‘harness the momentum’ created during the COVID-19 response, to transform the UK life sciences sector into a ‘superpower’.

This includes £37m worth of new investments for genomics projects and data-driven initiatives.

Genomics Englands projects, which support the implementation of the Genome UK strategy, are set to receive £17m including funding to be used in the exploration of public attitudes to newborn sequencing.

It is hoped that this will contribute to an increase in data from ethnic minorities in genomic cohorts and data-sets to support a next-generation approach to cancer diagnostics.

Hancock also set out how the new support for the UK Functional Genomics Initiative will contribute to new approaches to improve understanding of how genetic changes cause disease.

This will result in the use of genomics sequencing as a routine part of diagnosis and treatment, enabling doctors to make better clinical decisions using these tools and enable faster diagnosis and more precise treatments.

The additional £20m will be used for investments into UK health data for life sciences research, which will include investment into clinical trials and funding to develop medicines, vaccines and health technology to support ‘cutting-edge’ research.

“My message to would-be investors in UK life sciences is this. Nowhere in the world, will you find a government that is more committed to you, and nowhere will you find a government more committed to free trade and contract law. The life sciences industry is global, by nature, it depends on a huge collaboration, internationally, on international supply chains, maybe more than any other industry,” said Hancock.

“But we know, and I believe fundamentally that the best way to protect all our supply chains is not protectionism, it’s openness, […] I want to make crystal clear, Britain's unshakeable commitment to free trade and contract law, a covenant on life sciences, if you like, that gives those who want to invest and build their businesses in the UK, the assurance they need that you can export the medicines, made here to your destination market,” he added.