A new biopharmaceutical industry partnership has been launched with the aim of ensuring UK competitiveness in medicines manufacturing.

Jointly established by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and the BioIndustry Association (BIA), the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP) has now held its first meeting. The Partnership - which includes organisations such as Actavis, AstraZeneca, Eisai, FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, GlaxoSmithKline, the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), Oxford BioMedica and Pfizer - seeks to bring the biopharmaceutical industry together to work towards a common goal of creating an attractive and innovation-driven environment for manufacturing in the UK. 

As an immediate first step, the MMIP is jointly resourcing a team with the KTN to help the sector become more effective in navigating and drawing on public investments and funding mechanisms which are already in place, to ensure that the industry is utilising these to their full potential.

“The UK life sciences sector benefits from a supportive government and competitive fiscal environment, yet we believe more can be done to maximise these advantages, specifically in medicines manufacturing. Accordingly, the MMIP will look to clarify current fiscal incentives to ensure wider uptake from the sector,” said BIA chief executive Steve Bates.

The MMIP Steering Group will be led by Ian McCubbin, GlaxoSmithKline senior vice president for the North America, Japan and global supply chain. Initial work will focus around industry needs across a number of priority areas including the technology, fiscal, regulatory and rural environments, as well as the promotion overseas of the UK’s strengths in medicines manufacturing.

“The UK has a strong foundation in manufacturing, and it is vital that this partnership works to differentiate, defend and grow the existing industry base, so that we continue to be a major export earner and create opportunities to cement the UK’s position as a world-leading centre for medicines manufacturing,” said Mr McCubbin.

The MMIP is building on the KTN’s recent activities in developing roadmaps for Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board) in the areas of pharma, biopharma and biotech, said Sue Dunkerton, director for health and biotechnology at the Network. “At the KTN, we want to bring those with innovation challenges together with the businesses and researchers who have the talent and technology to develop viable solutions,” she said.

The partners point out that the UK medicines industry generated a trade surplus of £4.9 billion in 2012, and that the Gross Value Add (GVA) per employee in the sector was £149,000 for that year, which is significantly higher than any other manufacturing sector in the UK.

Commenting on the new partnership, recently-appointed Minister for Life Sciences George Freeman pointed out that exports of UK-manufactured medicines are now worth over £22 billion annually.