Commenting on the publication of the Life Sciences Sector Deal (6th December 2017), BIVDA’s Chief Executive, Doris-Ann Williams MBE, said
“The life sciences industry is a jewel in the UK’s crown and I am delighted that the Life Sciences Sector Deal includes a number of strong partnerships enabling the in vitro diagnostics (IVD) sector to play its part in delivering benefits for patients, the NHS and UK economy.
Health Advanced Research Programme
“To ensure the continuing success of the life sciences sector, it is vital that plans are made for the long-term future of the industry. We welcome the proposed Health Advanced Research Programme (HARP), which will bring multiple partners together to deliver solutions to future healthcare challenges.
“Along with other life science sectors, the use of digital technologies will be critical to enable the best function of many IVDs, for example the implementation of digital pathology systems. Therefore, we are delighted to see that amongst HARP’s initial collaborations is the ‘Data to early diagnostics and precision medicine’ programme which will involve the development of a trail-blazing digital pathology programme using artificial intelligence, in partnership with BIVDA member companies. We are very much look forward to working with the government on these projects.
“We are pleased to see that genomics has been identified as a focus for one of the HARP projects. Advances in stratified medicines have helped to transform the way understand and treat health conditions in the UK. However, patient access to personalised treatments is reliant on the availability of molecular diagnostic tests, which has typically been varied due to a fragmented commissioning structure.
We hope to work in partnership with the government to contribute to the whole genome sequencing of the UK Biobank and the extension of the cancer genome pathway from the 100,000 Genomes Project, building on the NHS contribution;
“The IVD industry already works in partnership with the NHS but welcomes the sector deal’s reflection of the Industrial Strategy report’s view that there needs to be greater collaboration in order to achieve the best outcomes for patients
We strongly agree that the NHS should partner with diagnostics companies to help reshape clinical pathways and improve efficiency. In particular we are eager to see the development and implementation of the Accelerated Access Collaborative, the increase of funding to innovative SMEs, and general improvement of access to new technologies in the NHS.
“The IVD industry, like many other industries in the life sciences sector, is underpinned by highly skilled workers from both the EU and further afield.
We welcome the introduction of “Trailblazer apprenticeship standards to meet key skills gaps”, especially in the area of regulatory affairs, in which BIVDA member companies’ expertise is widely renowned.
We are also delighted to see the government has supported our call for a migration system to be established that allows rapid recruitment and retention of highly skilled workers from the EU and beyond. The changes to immigration rules to enable world-leading scientists under the Tier 1 route to apply for settlement after three years, reducing red tape in general, and streamlining of systems to help students apply for work after completing their degrees are all welcome developments that we hope will continue to attract highly skilled workers to the life sciences sector in the UK.