The government’s industrial strategy white paper is expected to be published on 27 November 2017.
The publication will follow the ‘Building our industrial strategy’ green paper, published in January 2017, which identified and brought together a vision of how the UK can exploit its strengths in research and development to drive economic growth after Brexit.
The Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, published in August 2017 and written by Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at University of Oxford, was the first of the five industry-led ‘sector deals’ outlined in the green paper. The others were: nuclear, low-carbon emission vehicles, industry 4.0 and the creative sector. The strategy set forth how the government can work with industry to help the UK retain its leading position in the life science sector.
Bell’s strategy has been intensely scrutinised by both the House of Lords and Commons Science and Technology Committees, and on 21 November 2017, the Lords committee heard from chief medical officer for England, Dame Sally Davies, and government chief scientific adviser, Chris Whitty, who suggested a cabinet minister-led group should take charge of implementing the strategy.
Davies highlighted the role that the NHS has to play in the strategy’s implementation. She referred to the ongoing 100,000 Genomes Project, which she said was triggering a “transformation of the NHS” into a “research engine” and a “genomics database”.
However, the committee was told that there was still a long way to go before the full potential of the NHS was realised and that leadership and incentives for staff needed to be improved to “scale innovation”.
Davies also said that the government had a responsibility to ensure that the necessary training was made available to increase the number of clinical academics which could contribute to increasing the amount of time spent on useful research.