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Will today’s Budget entice more investment in life sciences?

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UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce the country's yearly budget later today

The UK’s life science industry has become the envy of Europe with the vaccine roll-out. But will Rishi Sunak recognise it in the Budget today?

Andrew Meade and Pervaise Khan of Accenture UK are advisers to the big pharma companies, and they look ahead to what the Chancellor might say

Context

Post-Brexit, the UK needs to find ways to be competitive on the global stage. Over the past year, the UK has emerged as the dominant player in the global life sciences industry, becoming the envy of Europe and the world with the rollout of its COVID-19 vaccination programme. It is not a coincidence that two of the FTSE100’s ten most valuable companies are Big Pharma.

Now, there is the potential for the UK to become the global poster-child for life sciences, with great economic potential for the country.

So, will the Budget recognise this new-found status for the industry, building on the UK’s immense intellectual property and encouraging both domestic and foreign direct investment into life sciences?

What to look out for?

Domestic initiatives: Despite the strategic importance of the sector, there has been little talk leading up to the Budget of any targeted industry initiatives. There is huge potential, however. Will the Government announce additional funding for research or towards scientific initiatives in the UK? If not, will they look at other elements – for example, the UK is already a leader in collaboration between companies, universities and legislators (the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine being the best example of this) – the next step is to include patients. Will the Government launch any initiatives to encourage this?

Foreign investment in UK life sciences: The UK life sciences industry is a prized asset, and the UAE has already signalled an interest in investing in the UK. The pairing of foreign cash supply and UK intellectual prowess/effectiveness could provide the ideal combination to take life sciences to the next level. Foreign cooperation could also unlock much needed global data-sharing to develop health ecosystems of legislators, universities, pharma companies and patients. But, this brings issues about access to sensitive information – how would this be handled in any potential partnerships?

Andrew Meade commented: “Over the past year, the UK has emerged as the dominant player in the global life sciences industry, becoming the envy of Europe and the world with the rollout of its COVID-19 vaccination programme – it is not a coincidence that two of the FTSE100’s ten most valuable companies are pharmaceutical companies.

“Looking to the UK’s future in a post-Brexit world, there is now potential for the UK to become the global poster-child for life sciences, with great economic potential for the country.

“It will be very interesting to see if the Budget recognises this new-found status for the industry, building on the UK’s immense intellectual property to encourage both domestic and foreign direct investment into the sector.”

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