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expert reaction to the government’s industrial strategy white paper

The business secretary Greg Clark has unveiled the government’s industrial strategy.


Prof Sir David Baulcombe, President of the Biochemical Society, said:

“It is vital for the wider economy, that Britain remains an open and forward-thinking nation for trade and investment following our exit from the European Union. The Biochemical Society is delighted to see that the Industrial Strategy white paper reflects confidence that the life sciences industry can contribute to future development  of the economy and we welcome the announcement of a partnership with the global pharmaceutical firm MSD. This and other initiatives set out in the White Paper will provide almost 1,000 new jobs for the sector and they signify the Government’s commitment to promoting external investment into UK life sciences.

Addressing shortages in STEM skills and supporting lifelong learning will be crucial to meeting the challenges faced by our sector in building a pipeline of future talent. Continued investment in infrastructure will also be key. In order to remain competitive in the global market, the UK must not only invest in new technologies such as genomic medicine, but also ensure that more traditional sectors, such as food and agriculture, continue to be supported.”


Prof Sir Robert Lechler PMedSci, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said:

“I am pleased to see foundations of productivity which the new Industrial Strategy will be built on, particularly the focus on ‘ideas’, ‘people’ and ‘places’. In order for the UK to stay as one of the most attractive places to develop the technologies and industries of the future, we must build on our existing strengths.

“This strategy and the life sciences sector deal recognise the excellence of our medical and life sciences research and I am confident that their implementation can help drive growth across the country, allowing UK patients to have access to the best diagnostics, treatments and care.

“The UK has a worldwide reputation for basic, blue-skies research and we must continue to further this asset. I am delighted to see the increase to the research council budgets, which can help balance the focus between basic and applied science.

“The £300 million investment in research talent will be essential to supporting the sustainability of the skills pipeline and the Academy looks forward to working with the Government to deliver these funding schemes.

“I am happy to see that the life sciences sector deal highlights the role that clusters can play in driving growth across the country. The focus on the Oxford-Milton Keynes Cambridge corridor is a promising start, but to reap maximum benefits, we must work to link life sciences clusters all over the UK to ensure the regions are joined up, creating a national approach.

“The creation of data hubs will be a great step towards maximising the huge wealth of health data available to power research forward. These hubs should be accessible to researchers so that they can become an invaluable tool to assist research into treating and preventing disease, something we all will benefit from.

“In order to be truly successful the NHS must be a key constituent in the Life Science Sector Deal. The NHS must be an active research partner and provide a market for the innovative treatments and diagnostics that the sector develops.”


Prof Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, says:

“We welcome the government’s new industrial strategy, which invests in our strengths as a knowledge-based economy and sends a bold, positive message that the UK is a global leader in research and innovation. The white paper commits much needed funding to develop the skills our young people need for the high-skilled jobs of the future. The pledge for additional investment in research & development will further bolster our world-leading research sector, which has the people, ideas and institutions needed to position ourselves at the forefront of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and clean energy. These are smart investments for the future, but we must also make sure that we continue to invest in the kind of basic science that will lead to completely new knowledge, which will become the foundation for transformative new industries and prosperity for generations to come.”


Prof Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive Designate of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), said:

“Today’s announcements show that the Government is delivering on its promise to put research and innovation at the heart of the industrial strategy. Alongside the commitment to raise spending on R&D to 2.4% of GDP and the funding to kick-start that process announced at the Budget, the detailed programmes outlined in the White Paper and Life Sciences strategy send a clear message that the UK is serious about further enhancing our global reputation in science, research and innovation.

“UK Research and Innovation has been working hard to develop a number of the programmes announced today, and will be ideally placed to ensure they all work together to make sure our research and innovation landscape is fit for the future; from putting the UK at the forefront of solving the challenges and developing the industries of the future with the industrial strategy challenge fund, to pushing the frontiers of knowledge with the emerging priorities fund and making sure we have the right people and skills to deliver on these ambitions.”


Dr Sarah Main, Executive Director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), said:

“Scientists, engineers and innovators find themselves in the Prime Minister’s sights today as she seeks to deliver greater productivity through investing in R&D and skills. The ambition and pace of the industrial strategy initiatives are welcome, but we must remember that the first and foremost reason that research-intensive companies invest in the UK is for the quality and creativity of our research base, both its output and its people. Therefore the commitments to increase support for the UK’s unique and demonstrably successful research funding modes through Research Councils, university Quality Related funding and Higher Education Innovation Funding are critical to the success of this strategy in attracting overseas R&D investment. So too is the commitment to developing a roadmap to R&D investment across the economy of 2.4% of GDP.”


Commenting on the announcement of the government’s industrial strategy on the day Prince Harry announced his engagement Steve Bates, Bioindustry Industry Association (BIA) CEO, said:

Congratulations to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. To symbolise the age in which they will be happily married I hope they choose an innovation wedding.

It would be great if they chose an electric vehicle as a carriage and Harry’s Guard of Honour are Invictus Games winners enabled to participate by the use of the very latest medical technology.

“Today’s news site algorithms will ensure their announcement receives global coverage and is an example of AI in practice today. We now need to extend this to other innovative sectors of the UK economy and the government’s industrial strategy document published today, but now unlikely to get much news coverage, is a blueprint of how the UK could do this. During the Windsors’ marriage I hope that the UK can harness the power of life science innovation to ensure all UK families have 5 generations alive and well to enjoy family weddings in the future.”


Prof Sarah Harper, Professor of Gerontology, University of Oxford, said:

“Today’s recognition in the government’s Industrial Strategy white paper of Ageing as one of the 4 key Challenges facing  the UK provides a firm foundation on which to build a prepared country and economy. Acknowledgement that with an ageing workforce and fewer people entering the labour market from education, employers will need a more flexible labour market that can accommodate older workers is an important step forward towards a fairer labour market providing opportunities and training for all ages. Future investment in innovation to help older adults maintain their chosen lifestyle and stay independent for as long as possible is essential, and the government is right to emphasise the role of both innovation and business in providing new products and services. This is particularly the case in the care sector where careful and appropriate use of emerging technology will have an increasing role going forward.”


Sir John Chisholm, Executive Chairman, Genomics England, said:

“We welcome the Government’s Industrial Strategy. This will enable us to build on the UK’s global lead in population genomics, to drive NHS transformation, improve health outcomes and realise future economic benefits for the UK.

“Genomics England is committed to building a world-leading UK genomics sector to deliver increasing patient benefit and to drive innovation, discovery and investment in our genomics industry.”


Prof Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, says:

“Today’s publication of the government’s Industrial Strategy white paper represents an important step towards positioning the UK as an outward-looking leading trading nation, and a top destination for inward investment and international talent. Engineering is a vital part of this country’s economy, contributing over 20% of gross value added and accounting for half our exports so engineering will be absolutely critical to delivering the outcomes sought by the industrial strategy. Now is the time to ramp up investment, particularly in digital skills, to ready the workforce for the next technological age, and the engineering community stands ready to support this process.”


Prof. David Webb, President of the British Pharmacological Society, said:

“It is good to see today’s launch of the new Industrial Strategy leading with a big boost to the life sciences sector, through the creation of nearly 1,000 jobs. The subsequent boost to research and development will be welcome news to all in the sector, and to the patients and members of the public who should ultimately benefit from this research.

We await the release of the full Industrial Strategy. In advance of that, it is worth noting that the foundation focus on ‘people’ in that new strategy will be critical in the view of the British Pharmacological Society. There is a significant amount of work needed to build our skills base and keep the UK’s strong position in R&D. Equally, such developments cannot happen in a vacuum, and we will be interested to know how today’s news will interact with issues associated with the UK’s decision to leave the EU – most notably around access to the single market, the free movement of skilled labour, and our ability to partner with the EMA in the regulation of new medicines.

The British Pharmacological Society can leverage expertise to develop and support the skills in pharmacology and clinical pharmacology that are needed to discover new medicines – and we hope to do so within a framework for excellence that must be provided by the new industrial strategy.”


Mike Thompson, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), Chief Executive, says:

“The Government’s Industrial Strategy is significantly important in providing a long-term strategic roadmap for UK business. As we navigate the challenges of leaving the European Union, it is important we continue to make the domestic landscape as attractive as possible.

“Today’s announcement of major investment in new research and development facilities by global pharmaceutical company MSD is a vote of confidence in the strength of UK science and a signal of the Government’s ambition to compete on a global scale.

“We now look forward to further detail on the sector deals between the pharmaceutical industry and Government on the back of Sir John Bell’s impressive Life Sciences Industrial Strategy. These deals are just the first steps but will be instrumental in securing the future strength of the UK life sciences industry, helping the UK economy prosper and allowing NHS patients to get better and faster access to world-class medicines discovered and developed here in Britain.”




Declared interests

None received.

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