A new report by the Medicines Discovery Catapult and the BioIndustry Association has unveiled a thriving service and supply sector for the UK's medicines discovery.

The 2019 ‘State of the Discovery Nation’ report specifically highlights two breakthrough technologies set to influence the future of medicines discovery and maintain the UK’s global competitiveness and found that service and supply companies account for 80% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in UK medicines discovery, and 90% of employment.

In addition to this, 20% of companies are actively focussed on therapeutic product development with 300 companies focussed on discovering potential new medicines, of which 70% are working in the areas of cancer, anti-infectives and the central nervous system.

The report also highlighted the fact that despite their size, SMEs are a critical source of innovation for new medicines; 60% have fewer than 5 staff and 80% have fewer than 20 people within the company.

The UK should be “proud of the vibrancy of its medicines discovery community and thriving service and supply sector”, according to Chris Molloy, chief executive of Medicines Discovery Catapult, as “the UK cannot conduct medicines discovery without access to this diverse range of skills, technologies and expertise. It is vital that we maintain our global competitiveness and R&D services can be a major sector driving international trade.

"The report’s findings help shape our strategy at MDC and we will continue to strengthen R&D productivity to create new medicines for patients.”

Service and supply companies enable the sector to deliver discovery projects that are more predictive and improve R&D productivity, thereby attracting industry investment into R&D in the UK.