Office for Life Sciences publishes advisory industrial strategy for life sciences


Life sciences industrial strategy
Office for Life Sciences, August 2017

The Life Sciences Industrial Strategy is the first of the five industry-led ‘Sector Deals’, outlined in the government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, to be proposed. The report is authored by Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at University of Oxford, and developed in consultation with the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy Board.

The purpose of the ‘Sector Deals’ is to identify and bring together a vision of how the UK can exploit known areas of excellence to drive economic growth in the post-Brexit world. In response to these industry-led recommendations, the government is expected to outline how it will support industry going forward in an agreed, formal ‘Deal’.

Sir John Bell et al set out how more aligned government and industry working can make the UK the home of clinical research and medical innovation, and the recommendations will be of interest to anyone working in clinical research, medical innovation, data and associated skills roles.

As expected, the NHS has a significant role to play in achieving this vision and the report focuses on areas of public-private collaboration and the historic issues of adoption, access and diffusion. The Accelerated Access Review already provides a base for much of the thinking but this report goes further by suggesting, for example, greater risk-sharing in the development of tools and therapies using NHS infrastructure. Data is also an area of focus in the strategy, with demands for mandatory ePrescribing for hospitals and greater national clarity on associated standards and requirements. Further to this, the report recommends between two and five Digital Innovation Hubs be established, providing data across regions of three to five million people, moving in time towards full population coverage.

An important chapter in the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy looks at the skills needs of the future clinical workforce, with a clear recommendation from industry for a migration system that prioritises the “rapid recruitment and retention of highly skilled workers from the EU and beyond.” Other interesting suggestions relate to skills action plans for life sciences-related areas including an apprenticeships scheme focused on data sciences and utilising the government’s support for technical education through an Institute of Technology and further strengthening STEM educations.

We await the government’s response to Sir John Bell’s report and the full Industrial Strategy White Paper, expected late autumn.

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