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Department of Health & Social Care releases sixth annual Life Science Competitiveness Indicators report

The sixth annual Life Science Competitiveness Indicators report has been published, comparing the UK’s performance in life sciences internationally to the end of 2019. The publication of the report had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis, however the document confirms that the UK was one of the best locations for life sciences work across the globe in 2019. A quarter of a million people were employed in the sector during that year and it generated almost £81bn in annual turnover (2019).

In terms of Government activity regrading life sciences, a number of projects have advanced which propel the sector towards growth objectives and an even better global standing. Initiatives include the Biobank genomics project, the Accelerated Access Collaborative and the Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access (VPAS). R&D spending in the sector will be raised to 2.4% of GDP by 2027, according to Government strategy for the area. The UK maintains its position with the second highest level of government spending on health R&D amongst the comparators, behind only the United States of America.

In 2014, the UK’s share of life science academic citations was 12%, ranking second among comparator countries, behind the USA. Regarding employment, in 2017, the UK employed 41,800 in the manufacture of medical technologies. UK employment has changed little since 2013, with a net growth of 200 jobs. This data allows for like-for-like comparisons internationally, but is known to underestimate employment and does not capture the full breadth of jobs manufacturing medical technologies.

Up-to-date data from the ONS shows a 7.8% rise in medical technology exports between 2018 and 2019. 2018 saw a huge growth in the export of medical technology across comparator nations, especially in India which saw a 23% rise in exports. The value of UK imports of medical technology products was $5.5bn in 2018. This is an increase of $400m (8%) since 2017.

The future of the life sciences industry will be support by DHSC and BEIS through increased investment, NICE assessments, developing innovations such as AI and transforming the MHRA into a patient centred, world leading regulator.


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