The UK government has published its Industrial Strategy White Paper, showing how it will invest in skills, industry and infrastructure to help businesses create better, higher-paying jobs.
The strategy, published on 27 November 2017, focuses on “five foundations of productivity”: ideas, people, infrastructure, business environment, and places, in order to boost productivity and earning power across the country.
The strategy sets out four “grand challenges” to put the UK at the forefront of the industries of the future. These four challenges are in artificial intelligence and big data, clean growth, the future of mobility and meeting the needs of an ageing society.
Mike Thompson, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) said it was significantly important in providing a long-term strategic roadmap for UK businesses.
“As we navigate the challenges of leaving the European Union, it is important we continue to make the domestic landscape as attractive as possible,” he said.
“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,” he added.
Ahead of the publication of the White Paper, the government announced that MSD (Merck) is set to make a “major investment” into the UK with the opening of a new London-based life sciences discovery centre, helping to ensure that innovative research into future treatments for patients and pioneering medicines is carried out in the UK. The discovery centre is anticipated to support 950 jobs, including 150 new research roles to help attract the best research scientists.
In addition, the German pharmaceutical company, Qiagen, has announced it will partner with Health Innovation Manchester to invest in a genomics and diagnostics campus in Manchester, creating around 800 new jobs for the city.
“MSD’s commitment and the wider Sector Deal investment we have secured, proves the process outlined in the Industrial Strategy can give companies the confidence and direction they need to invest in the UK,” said business secretary, Greg Clark.
“It will ensure Britain continues to be at the forefront of innovation and represents a huge vote of confidence in our Industrial Strategy.”
Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) deputy chief scientist, Claire Thompson, welcomed the commitment to developing new medicines and medical devices in the UK.
“This news comes at a time of great uncertainty around the impact of Brexit on R&D funding, workforce and medicines regulation,” she said.
“We want the UK to remain a place where pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists develop novel medicines and medical devices, both in the pharmaceutical industry and in our world-class academic institutions.”
John Bell, author of the Life Science Industrial Strategy, said the investment would drive the sector forward and attract other investments into the UK.
“Investments by world-renowned companies like MSD and Qiagen demonstrate that the UK’s science base is truly world-leading and an exceptional national strength,” he added.
Mike Thompson said the investment was a vote of confidence in the strength of UK science and a signal of the government’s ambition to compete on a global scale.
“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,” he added.
The White Paper is the product of a consultation on the government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, published in January 2017. The consultation received feedback from over 2,000 organisations from all over the UK.