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expert reaction to life sciences growth package announcements from the Chancellor

The Chancellor has announced a package of measures to boost UK life sciences.


Dr Flic Gabbay, President of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine, said:

“I am delighted to see the Government’s firm commitment to life sciences and the recognition of the sector’s important contribution to UK patients and the economy.  FPM is an organisation whose members are leading medicines and devices development, access and regulation.  These announcements will strengthen their ability to innovate and improve UK healthcare.  We are looking forward to supporting Government in building further on the already successful UK life sciences sector.”


Dame Kate Bingham, Managing Partner, SV Health Investors, said:

“Great to see that the government has addressed some of the concerns raised by the life sciences sector to solve several key roadblocks to unlock the huge health and economic opportunities created by life sciences innovation.  The government’s response to the Silicon Valley Bank crisis in March 2023 was exemplary and they have wisely supported a reversal of R&D tax credits to support science-intensive SMEs, which are the engine of new medicine discovery.

“Great also to see such a comprehensive report on clinical trials in the UK.  While he correctly concludes that the UK lost its competitive edge, Lord O’Shaughnessy has hit the key points and come up with punchy conclusions to realise health benefits through clinical research.  By implementing these recommendations, the UK can leverage its amazing assets to become the most efficient and valuable place in the world to trial new medicines.  With the right leadership and energy, UK patients can get access to innovative medicines that save lives and improve quality of life, as well as drive economic growth.

“I am delighted to see the government’s commitment to biomanufacturing and innovation – something I had been calling for as part of our pandemic preparedness preparation.  We need to make sure that the UK works closely with industry leaders to develop and manufacture ground-breaking new vaccines and medicines in the UK and exported around the world.  We have brilliant people and skills in biomanufacturing, but we need more of them to meet demands for the production of vaccines/therapeutics at population levels.

“Securing Husseini Manji as a co-chair of the Mental Health Mission is a real coup.  He has a stunning record in developing new drugs for treatment-resistant depression at J&J.  The Mental Health Mission’s focus to find better treatments for depression, bipolar disorders and schizophrenia in young adults and adolescents has never been more needed.

“Collectively these moves will enable life sciences and biotech companies to grow and flourish, to explore and ultimately bring much needed treatments to patients who need them.”


Lynsey Bilsland, Head of Mental Health Translation at Wellcome, said:

Commenting on the Mental Health Mission:

“It’s positive to see this new investment in mental health science, which will support the development of new, improved, more personalised treatments.

“Lived experience must be placed at the heart of the Mental Health Mission to deliver the most effective and sustainable ways to help people living with mental health conditions.  This will require including people from all backgrounds throughout each stage of research, from the design of clinical trials through to ensuring access to treatments.

“Continued investment to strengthen mental health science across the UK, and bringing together a wide range of research disciplines, will help to transform our understanding of mental health, finding solutions that work as effectively and as early as possible.”


Prof Dame Anne Johnson PMedSci, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said:

“The UK is renowned for having a strong life sciences sector that delivers significant health and economic benefits through world-leading, life-saving research.  For this to continue, the UK must be internationally competitive and an attractive destination for world-class talent, investment and innovation, which is why we welcome the substantial support package announced by Government.

“Among the measures and funding news, we are pleased that the UK Biobank has been recognised as a national asset to generate new discoveries that benefit patients and leverage new partnerships and investment from across the health research system.

“The Lord O’Shaughnessy review into commercial clinical trials in the UK, also published today, highlights that our strength in life sciences is intimately linked with the excellence of the UK health research system, from universities to charities.  It rightly points out that the NHS is a critical part of this system and therefore must be an active and engaged partner to our life sciences industry as well as our academic and charitable sectors.  It is positive to see that the report also highlights the importance of patient involvement and the need for the NHS workforce to be able to engage in research.

“These findings, along with the commitments made to ensure regulation is fit for purpose, align strongly with our recently published report on future-proofing UK health research.  This set out some of the steps needed by Governments, funders, universities, industry and the NHS to deliver on the ambitions that are reflected in the announcements.  We look forward to working with partners across sectors to realise the full potential of the UK’s life sciences sector in driving economic growth and improving public health.”


Nicola Perrin MBE CEO of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) said:

Commenting on the Pro-innovation Regulation of Technologies Review:

“Getting new treatments to patients as quickly and safely as possible is vital.  The publication of this comprehensive report is a significant and positive step.  We welcome the proportionate yet innovative approaches that are outlined and hope that, with sustainable funding for regulators, patients will be able to benefit from research innovation much more quickly.”


Prof Peter Jones, Trustee of Mental Health Research UK (MHRUK), said:

Commenting on the Mental Health Mission:

“This will be a crucible for therapeutic innovation in the UK through new alignments of public and private funding opportunities, fresh ideas, and the development of the research workforce necessary for modern mental health science.  Since Covid-19 there has been much more open discussion about mental ill-health and its prevalence.  Recently we have seen some novel treatments showing significant promise, such as MDMA antagonists and psilocybin for depression, and the use of virtual reality headsets for PTSD and psychosis.  The focus on a new ‘Mental Health Mission’ and significant injection of funding for mental health research will raise all our efforts to improve the lives of people living with mental ill-health in the future.”


Dr Mayura Deshpande, Associate Registrar for Policy at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:

Commenting on the Mental Health Mission:

“This announcement is a positive step in the right direction. We urgently need more funding for mental health research.  If we’re serious about treating mental and physical health equally, funding for mental health research needs to increase exponentially.  As measured by Years Lived with Disability, mental disorders account for at least 21% of the UK disease burden, although further research suggests this has been underestimated by at least a third.  Yet in 2018, just 6.1% of the UK’s health research budget was spent on mental health and funding has remained flat for a decade.

“While new technologies for managing common mental illness are welcome, we strongly support the commitment to develop new treatments and expand knowledge of severe mental illness, including early psychosis, mood disorders and difficult to treat depression.  Research into effective strategies to prevent mental illness is also urgently needed.  We know every pound invested in early intervention delivers a three-fold return on investment and significantly improves outcomes.

“This research funding does not take away from the fact that mental health services are at breaking point because of a chronic shortage of psychiatrists and other mental health care professionals. Apps and other technologies will not by themselves solve this problem.  We are calling on Government to urgently publish the Workforce Plan they promised last year.”


Michael Dunn, Director of Discovery Research at Wellcome, said:

“The UK is home to a thriving life sciences community, continually making new discoveries about people’s health.  We are pleased to see the UK government’s recognition of this through the new commitments made today to help drive further growth and innovation.

“In particular, the new investment in a purpose-built facility for UK Biobank, which Wellcome has co-funded since its inception, will ensure it remains a world-leading centre of biomedical science, serving as a vital resource for researchers globally.

“Sustaining the UK’s strategic strength in science requires ongoing nurture and sustained investment from government.  The next step in growing the confidence of the research community would be a positive outcome for the Horizon Europe association discussions, reflecting the international collaboration that is crucial to contemporary science.”


Prof Sir Rory Collins, Principal Investigator and CEO of UK Biobank, said:

On the UKRI funding of UK Biobank announcement:

“We are thrilled to be moving to a world-leading centre for genomics and data, where we can build on existing relationships with The University of Manchester.  We are incredibly grateful to UKRI for their funding and support, which will enable us to consider new ways to enrich the data and make UK Biobank even more valuable for health research.  The improved technologies and capacity at our new home will also make it quicker and easier for researchers from around the world to conduct vital research into common and life-threatening diseases and enable new scientific discoveries that improve human health.”

On the Life Sciences moment:

“Today’s announcements highlight the UK’s potential to transform our health, knowledge and economy by cranking up our science.  One key way to do that is to bring all NHS data into one place.

“During the pandemic, the Secretary of State enabled medical records to be shared for public health research.  The insights were enormous and will have saved lives, but this data has now been locked away in silos once more.

“At UK Biobank we have 500,000 volunteer participants who altruistically signed up to share all their health-related data, but currently they cannot share the most useful data of all – the data controlled by their GP.  Our aim is to honour our participants’ wishes, fix this, and have these data released for life-saving research.”


Steve Bates, CEO of BIA, said:

On the Life Sciences Council meeting and today’s announcements:

“The Life Sciences Council is a key moment when our industry and ministers come together to discuss the challenges and opportunities for UK life sciences, ensuring our industry continues to grow in the UK to deliver jobs and innovative new medicines for the NHS. The Government has shown vital commitment to our sector, most crucially in listening and responding to our concerns when R&D tax relief was threatened, with the Chancellor announcing a welcome enhanced rate of relief for R&D-intensive SMEs at the Spring Budget, and in their swift and decisive action to prevent the failure of Silicon Valley Bank UK in March. In the Council meeting, we discussed how we can build on our close and productive relationship to deliver continued success.”

“Today’s package of support for the UK life sciences sector will help address fundamental challenges large and small companies in our industry face as they look to invest and grow in the UK.

“We welcome today’s initiatives, including those that will improve access to finance for start-ups and scale-ups, and to create a pro-innovation regulatory environment. These positive steps will put us on the front-foot in the global race to develop and manufacture the next generation of medicines and technologies,  underpinning our economic growth and better health for years to come.”

On the O’Shaughnessy review of clinical trials and Vallance review of life sciences regulation:

“Running effective commercial clinical trials in the UK is a win for all involved. NHS patients who get access to novel therapies, the NHS which gets income and upskilled, engaged clinical teams, while the life science industry gets the valuable, timely data that companies need to progress products to global registration and market.

“This detailed report from Lord O’Shaughnessy demonstrates that we can do this and provides a sharp and detailed focus on what more needs to be done to ensure the UK wins much, much more of this sought-after work in the months and years ahead.” 

“Sir Patrick Vallance’s review of life sciences regulation provides sensible and tangible actions on how regulators can help rather than hinder the development and delivery of biology-based innovation, from innovative medicines to lab-grown meat. The UK has a competitive advantage in engineering biology, which will be crucial to delivering our net zero ambitions and countless other benefits for society and our economy, but we must create a supportive environment for small innovative companies developing these cutting-edge technologies. We urge the Government to move swiftly to implement Sir Patrick’s recommendations.”

On the investments in medicines manufacturing:

“The UK’s life science ecosystem is the source of some of the world’s most impactful and best-selling medicines, but we have historically failed to capture the full economic benefits of this because they are manufactured overseas. The next generation of medicines coming online, like cell and gene therapies and mRNA-based technologies, provide an opportunity for the UK to attract foreign direct investment, create new, high-value manufacturing jobs and grow exports.

“By investing in leading manufacturing companies across the country and committing to further investment through the new Biomanufacturing Fund, the Government will ensure the next generation of medicines are developed and manufactured for the globe from the UK.”


Dr Dan Mahony, UK Government Life Science Investment Envoy and Chair of BIA, said:

On the call for proposals for the Long-Term Investment For Technology and Science (LIFTS) programme:

“Our world-leading life science start-ups and scale-ups have attracted record levels of investment in recent years, but that capital is primarily coming from overseas. Financial institutions in the City of London, including pension schemes and insurance funds, are not investing in our innovative companies. While foreign investment is incredibly welcome, UK investors are missing out on the opportunity on their doorstep and innovative British companies are missing out on additional funding that could accelerate their growth. We know from the pensions industries of Canada, Australia and the United States that venture capital investing is an essential component of a diversified portfolio for pension savers. Greater investment in the life sciences sector will deliver real financial returns for people’s retirement while growing the economy and providing valuable new medicines to address terrible diseases that affect us all.”     


Prof Andrew Morris, Director of Health Data Research UK, said:

“The government’s set of announcements to support the life sciences in this country is welcome.  The investment in infrastructure, the new public-private partnerships and the boost to research on mental health conditions are good news for the sector.

“But I believe that the two reviews announced today are just as important: the publication of Lord O’Shaughnessy’s recommendations to make it easier for clinical trials to be run in the UK and the review of regulatory systems in the life sciences led by Professor Dame Angela McLean.

“Figures from the pharmaceutical industry body the ABPI show that the number of industry clinical trials started in the UK each year fell by 41% between 2017 and 2021.  We have fallen behind many other international countries in a short space of time.  This is devastating for pharma in the UK and its impact on jobs and the economy, but more importantly for patients in the UK.  Involvement in clinical trials tends to make it more likely that patients can access new and effective treatments more quickly.  The recommendations in the O’Shaughnessy review point to ways forward to reverse this decline.

“The one missing thing in today’s announcements that would transform life science research in the UK is a positive conclusion to the talks for the UK to access the EU’s Horizon research programme.  Research today is built on team science with collaborations across the globe.  Working alongside other top scientists in Europe benefits everyone and keeps all our research at the cutting edge, speeding benefits for patients and the public.”


Darius Hughes, Moderna’s General Manager for the UK, said:

“Today’s announcement is a huge boost to UK life sciences and reinforces our excitement to be making a big investment in this country, delivering onshore manufacturing and R&D capabilities.

“We particularly welcome the recommendations in the Independent Review, all of which demonstrate a commitment to reinvigorate the UK’s world class reputation in clinical research that will bring benefits to patients, and we look forward to working with the government on its implementation.”



Declared interests

Dame Kate Bingham: “Former VTF chair, worked with OLS to appoint Mission chairs, support BIA/BVCA on their engagement with government on life sciences industrial strategy, VC investing in UK life sciences/biotech including in dementia & mental health.”

Lynsey Bilsland: “Wellcome has been involved in the development of the Mental Health Mission.”

Michael Dunn: “Wellcome was a co-founding funder of UK Biobank and continues to provide core funding.”

For all other experts, no reply to our request for DOIs was received.

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