Life Sciences Industrial Strategy Update    

In the two years the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy launched, there has been very substantial progress in making the UK a more attractive place for life sciences companies to succeed and grow. These developments are the result of a strong collaboration between all aspects of this diverse industry – pharma, biotech, medtech, digital and diagnostics – the wider research community in the UK, the NHS and government. Together these parties have identified opportunities and acted on them, and have similarly recognised our limitations and worked to overcome them. This coalition has made a significant difference to the sector and has also shown what a clear, well‑targeted strategy can achieve. This report describes the progress made against the targets set in the original Life Sciences Industrial Strategy published in August 2017. A substantial majority of the objectives in the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy have been met and more are being delivered now. … This Strategy creates not only opportunities for economic growth but it also underpins a more efficient and effective health system. Together, it is hard to see where government can better spend its resources and energy.   (   January 13, 2020)

Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC)

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is the government department responsible for policy on health and adult care matters in England and some matters not otherwise devolved to the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive.  It oversees the NHS in England.  DHSC is lead by a Secretary of State, two Ministers of State and three Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State.  It carries out some of its work through arms-length bodies, including executive non-departmental public bodies such as NHS England and NHS Digital, and executive agencies such as Public Health England and the MHRA. 

NHS England (NHSE)

The NHS England (NHSE) is the publicly-funded healthcare system in England and one of four NHS systems in the UK.  It is the second largest single-payer healthcare system in the world after Brazil.  Primarily funded by Government through taxation and overseen by the Department of Health & Social Care, NHS England provides healthcare to all legal UK residents, with most services free at the point of use.  Some services, such as emergency care and treatment of infectious diseases, are free for everyone, including visitors.  Different types of organisations are commissioned to provide NHS services, including NHS Trusts and private sector companies.  Many NHS Trusts have become NHS Foundation Trusts, which gives them independent legal status and greater financial freedom.  In certain fields, specialised trusts deliver NHS services (acute, ambulance service, NHS care, and mental health).  Most general practitioners (GPs), dentists, opticians and other providers of local care are self-employed, contracting their services back to the NHS.  Some will operate in partnership with others in their own surgeries and clinics, employing their own staff.

Public Health England (PHE)

Public Health England (PHE) is an executive agency of the Department of Health & Social Care that came into being in 2013 to bring together public health specialists from more than 70 organisations into a single public health service, which has a mission to protect and improve the nation’s health and to address inequalities.  PHE ensures there are effective arrangements in place nationally and locally for preparing, planning and responding to health protection concerns and emergencies, including the future impact of climate change. PHE provides specialist health protection, epidemiology and microbiology services across England.  It employs approximately 5500 scientists, researchers and public health professionals.  PHE laboratories provide an extensive array of microbiological diagnostic tests.  PHE has eight local centres around the country, plus an integrated region and centre for London, and four regions (north of England, south of England, Midlands and east of England/London).  It works closely with public health officials in the devolved nations and internationally.

Healthcare UK

Healthcare UK is a part of the Department of Health & Social Care and the Department for International Trade which helps UK healthcare providers to do more business overseas.  It does this by promoting the UK health sector to overseas markets and supporting healthcare partnerships between the UK and overseas healthcare providers.

Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS)

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) was created by then prime minister Theresa May in 2016 to join up responsibility for business, industrial strategy, and science and innovation with energy and climate change policy, merging the function of BIS and DECC.  Its current priorities are: delivering an ambitious Industrial Strategy; maximising investment opportunities and bolstering UK interests as it leaves the EU; promoting competitive markets and responsible business practices; ensuring the UK has a reliable low-cost and clean energy system; and building a flexible, innovative, collaborative, business-facing department.

Department for International Trade (DIT)

The Department for International Trade (DIT) seeks to secure UK and global prosperity by promoting and financing international trade and investment, and championing free trade.  As an international economic department, it is responsible for: bringing together policy, promotion and financial expertise to break down barriers to trade and investment, and to help businesses succeed; delivering a new trade policy framework for the UK as it leaves the EU; promoting British trade and investment across the world; and building the global appetite for British goods and services.  Like BEIS, DIT was created by Theresa May in 2016 to replace the former UKTI which had been operated jointly by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department of Business Innovation and Skills.  DIT will be negotiating all the free trade agreements and market access deals with non-EU countries.

Government Office for Science (GO-Science)

The Government Office for Science (GO-Science) advises the Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet to ensure that government policies and decisions are informed by the best scientific evidence and strategic long-term thinking.  GO-Science is led by the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, currently Sir Patrick Vallance (previously a clinical academic professor at UCL before joining GlaxoSmithKline in 2006 as Head of Drug Discovery and rising to be a President of R&D and member of the GSK Board and the Corporate Executive Team).  He has played a very visible role in advising the PM and Government during the COVID-19 epidemic.

Office for Life Sciences (OLS)

The Office for Life Sciences (OLS) is a policy-focused organisation that champions research, innovation and the use of technology to transform health and care service.  It is part of the Department of Health & Social Care and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

UK Research & Innovation (UKRI)

UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) is a quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation that directs research and innovation funding, funded through the science budget of BEIS.  It was established in April 2018 to bring together the seven existing Research Councils, Innovate UK, and the Research and Knowledge Exchange functions of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) into one unified body.  HEFCE has now become Research England.  Working in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities and government, UKRI’s mission is to foster R&D within the UK and create a positive impact.  The relevant Research Councils for the BELS community are the Medical Research Council (MRC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

Innovate UK

Originally an advisory body called the Technology Strategy Board established in 2004, in April 2018 Innovate UK ceased to report directly to BEIS and became a council of UKRI.  It is the UK’s innovation agency and seeks to drive productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas, including those from the UK’s world class research base.  There are almost 500 staff drawn mainly from business.  There is a strong business focus and a drive to work with companies to de-risk, enable and support innovation.  It connects business to the partners, customers and investors that can help them turn ideas into commercially successful products and services and business growth.  It also funds business and research collaborations to accelerate innovation and to drive business investment into R&D.  The support is available to businesses across all economic sectors, value chains and UK regions.  Since 2007, it is said to have invested £2.5 billion to help businesses across the UK to innovate with matched funding from industry taking the total value of the projects to £4.3 billion helping 8500 organisations to create 70,000 jobs and an estimated value of £18 billion of value to the UK economy.  Much of the money is doled out via competitions.

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the largest funder of non-medical bioscience research and training in the UK.  Part of UKRI, it predominantly funds scientific research institutes and university research departments as it aims to further scientific knowledge, promote economic growth, and improve the quality of life in the UK and beyond.  BBSRC receives its money from the science budget of BEIS and its mission is to promote and support, by any means, high-quality basic, strategic and applied research and related postgraduate training relating to the understanding and exploitation of biological systems.  BBSRC strategically funds well-known institutes including Babraham, Roslin, Pirbirght and John Innes.

Medical Research Council (MRC)

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is responsible for coordinating and funding medical research in the UK.  MRC aims to improve the health of people in the UK and around the world by supporting great science and training the very best scientists. Part of UKRI, it focuses on high-impact research and has provided the financial support and scientific expertise behind a number of medical breakthroughs, including the development of penicillin and the discovery of the structure of DNA.  Founded in 1913, research funded by the MRC has produced 32 Nobel prize winners.  The MRC has units, centres and institutes around the UK, including the world-famous Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, and in The Gambia and Uganda.

Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC)

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC) is responsible for overseeing government funding for grants to undertake research and postgraduate training in engineering and the physical sciences (including mathematics, physics, chemistry, AI and computer science), mainly at UK universities.  Part of UKRI, it was created in 1994 and previously was a part of the Science and Engineering Research Council.  ESPRC works with many partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas.

Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) carries out research in science and engineering, and funds research in areas including particle physics, nuclear physics, space science and astronomy, both ground-based and space-based.  Part of UKRI, it was formed in 2007 when assorted bodies were combined into one umbrella organization.  It helps operate and provide access for UK and international scientists to a number of large-scale facilities including CERN just outside Geneva, the European Synchroton Radiation Facility in Grenoble, and Diamond Light Source at Harwell near Oxford.

Research England

Research England oversees UKRI’s England-only functions in relation to university research and knowledge exchange.  This includes providing grant funding to English universities for research and knowledge exchange activities; developing and implementing the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in partnership with UK Higher Education funding bodies; overseeing the sustainability of the Higher Education research base in England; managing the £900 million UK Research Partnership Investment Fund; and administering the Higher Education Innovation Fund.

Francis Crick Institute

The Francis Crick Institute is an independent, London-based consortium of six UK preeminent life science research organisations whose mission is to solve some of the world’s most fundamental problems in biomedical science. Founded in 2010, the Crick moved into its new state-of-the-art building next to Kings Cross/St Pancras in 2016 which brings together 1500 scientists and support staff working collaboratively across disciplines, making it the biggest biomedical research facility under a single roof in Europe.  Led by Nobel Laureate Sir Paul Nurse, the institute works to better understand the fundamental biology underlying health and disease and to translate discoveries into new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, infections and neurodegenerative diseases.  Founding Partners:  Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, Wellcome Trust, University College London, Imperial College London and King’s College London.   VIDEO

Rosalind Franklin Institute

The Rosalind Franklin Institute (registered charity) is a new government-supported national institute dedicated to bringing about transformative changes in life science through interdisciplinary research and technology development.  Its work is focused on five complementary themes: biological mass spectrometry, correlated imaging, imaging with sound and light, next generation chemistry for medicine, and structural biology.  Together these themes will produce technologies that allow us to see the biological world in new ways, from single molecules to entire systems so that we can speed up drug design and development, and push forward our understanding of human health and disease.  Operating on a hub and spoke model, the central hub at the Harwell Campus near Oxford will house a unique portfolio of scientific tools along with researchers from industry and academia.  Equipment and researchers will also be located in spokes distributed throughout the Partners, including leading universities—Birmingham, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Imperial, King’s College, Leeds, Manchester, Oxford, Southampton and UCL—along with the Diamond Light Source (the UK’s national synchrotron located at Harwell) and UKRI’s Science and Technology Facilities Council.  Funding:  UKRI

Wellcome Sanger Institute

The Wellcome Sanger Institute (non-profit) is a Cambridge UK-based centre of genomic discovery and understanding that is leading ambitious collaborations across the globe to provide the foundations for further research and transformative healthcare innovations. The major theme of the Institute’s science is genome variation—naturally occurring and engineered; it made a seminal contribution to the Human Genome Project’s first mapping of the human genome. Important to the Institute is sharing its discoveries and techniques with the next generation of genomics scientists and researchers worldwide.  Funding: primarily Wellcome Trust.    VIDEO

Explore UK health & life science assets further:

Clinical Research


NHS Collaboration


Advanced Therapies

Business Environment & Funding