Life Sciences sector deal

Bidwells Briefing

The Government has followed high-profile Budget and Industrial Strategy announcements supporting the Golden Triangle by unveiling a strategic vision for the Life Sciences sector. 

The Life Sciences Sector Deal is being hailed by ministers as a “transformative” agreement between government, business and academia.

Commitments and investment announcements from 25 global life sciences organisations accompanied the news yesterday (Dec 6) as part of a plan to “modernise the sector” and support pioneering new research and development.


Life Sciences Sector Deal - summary below

The UK life sciences sector has an annual turnover of approximately £64 billion and employs around 233,000 personnel. Life sciences employment within the Golden Triangle is currently around 122,000 and growing at 5-10% each year.

The sector deal comes just days after the Government published its long-awaited Industrial Strategy as a White Paper with £725 million of funding earmarked for the life sciences and construction sectors - both cornerstones of the Golden Triangle economy.


Industrial Strategy – summary below

This flagship government strategy document sets out a plan to boost the UK economy through measures designed to embrace technological change, nurture innovation and support more research and development.

Bidwells is presently advising on more than 15 million sq ft of research and development space across the Golden Triangle – more than any other firm. 


Patrick McMahon, senior partner of Bidwells, said:

This government’s long-term vision for the UK economy will result in billions of pounds of additional investment in the UK life sciences and technology sectors with a substantial proportion of this investment falling within the Golden Triangle, creating extensive development and employment opportunities.

Johnson and Johnson’s collaboration with Oxford University and AstraZeneca’s genetic research investment in Cambridge are two of the more eye-catching announcements but this sector deal is very positive news for businesses across the Golden Triangle.

The private sector is rowing in behind Sir John Bell’s vision, the UK Industrial Strategy and the spending priorities of the Autumn Budget to demonstrate what is possible when the public and private sectors collaborate effectively - a feature of the success of Oxford, Cambridge and our world-class life sciences clusters.


Strong support for the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor in the Industrial Strategy White Paper followed an Autumn Budget that set out an ambition to build one million homes in the corridor by 2050; re-open the Varsity Line and support the delivery of an expressway between the UK’s two university cities.  

Patrick added:

The Industrial Strategy identifies the Varsity Line corridor, which embraces much of the Golden Triangle, as being central to the country’s post-Brexit economic and employment growth strategy.

The Varsity Line corridor presently contributes around £90 billion to the nation’s GDP.  This is estimated by the National Infrastructure Commission to rise to around £250 billion if the Varsity Line and expressway are completed over the next 15 years.


Life Sciences Sector Deal – Key Announcements 

MSD. The US company will establish a life sciences discovery research facility in London, focussed on early bioscience discovery and entrepreneurial innovation. Dr Roger M. Perlmutter, President of MSD Research Laboratories, praised the “deep discovery capabilities of the biomedical research community in the Golden Triangle of London-Oxford-Cambridge”.

Johnson & Johnson. A collaboration with the University of Oxford will work on “novel clinical trial methodologies” focused on mental health disorders such as depression.

Medicines Company. A new project with the University of Oxford will perform a large multinational cardiovascular disease clinical trial.

GSK and AstraZeneca. “Significant investments” by Stevenage-based GSK and Cambridge’s AstraZeneca will focus on initiatives to harness advances in genetic research in developing medicines.


Industrial Strategy – Key Announcements

Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Part of a wider £1 billion fund already announced,the construction and life sciences sector have been allocated £725 million in this funding round.

Three more Sector Deals. The artificial intelligence, automotive and construction industries have also been developing Sector Deals with government. They will also come forward in the New Year.

Strength in Places Fund. This fund will be spread across areas identified in the Industrial Strategy’s Science and Innovation audits. Areas identified in the Golden Triangle include: Oxfordshire Transformative Technologies (computers, autonomous vehicles, digital health, and space and satellites) and East of England (Life Sciences and Agri-Tech businesses).

Local Industrial Strategies. Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPS) will coordinate and establish local industrial strategies by March 2019, as part of the White Paper proposals. If a Combined Authority Mayor is in place they will take the lead. 

R & D spending boost. The Government’s overall aspiration is that research and development spending rises from 1.65% to 3% of GDP over the next 10 years. It was announced in the Budget that the R&D tax credit will rise to 12%. 

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