Trade associations praise progress made to beef up UK life sciences industry

A UK Government scheme to accelerate the development of life science discoveries for the benefit of patients has already shown positive results, according to four leading life science trade associations.

A UK Government scheme to accelerate the development of life science discoveries for the benefit of patients has already shown positive results, according to four leading life science trade associations.

The Life Sciences 2010: Delivering the Blueprint report from the Office of Life Sciences details progress made by this scheme, begun in July 2009, and the Association of British Healthcare Industries (ABHI), Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), BioIndustry Association (BIA) and the British In Vitro Diagnostics Association (BIVDA) have all praised "the strong progress that has been made".

Key steps taken include embedding clinical trials into "core NHS activity" and an initiative called Patent Box, which will apply 10% corporation tax to patent-related income from 2013, strengthening incentives for companies to invest in innovative activity and locate in the UK.

Other schemes welcomed by the industry associations include the Innovation Pass, which will allow patients with rare diseases quicker access to new drugs. A one-year pilot will start in April with funding of 25m.

They also praise the 2.1m RegenMed programme managed by the Technology Strategy Board to support regenerative medicine and the creation of the Super Cluster, which fosters collaboration between industry and academia, the NHS and industry to ensure a joint approach to the development of new drugs.

The Government said this week that it would invest 1m in the Life Sciences Super Cluster, which will be kick-started later this year with a pilot in immunology and inflammation, focusing on diseases such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

Clive Dix, chairman of the BioIndustry Association (BIA), said the establishment of the Super Cluster is a good example of the success of the scheme to boost the life sciences.

"The BIA believes the move away from geographically defined clusters to a virtual cluster built around therapeutic capabilities will allow all of the UK's talented scientists and business people in the life sciences sector to contribute to developing much needed treatments for patients and to delivering a stronger sector," he said.

Richard Barker, director general of the ABPI, said Life Sciences 2010 was a "major milestone".

"Work to implement and extend this strategy must be a high priority for both government and industry in the coming years, to maintain the UK's leadership role and the flow of life-changing, innovative therapies for patients," he said.

Science and innovation minister Lord Drayson, while welcoming the report and the initiatives, said "there is still a lot to do".




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