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£260 million to boost healthcare research and manufacturing

Up to £200 million committed to support NHS-led health research into diagnostics and treatment through new privacy-preserving platforms and clinical research services, and £60 million to help expand life sciences manufacturing in the UK.

Patients across the country are set to benefit from cutting edge medical advances and treatments as the government invests £260 million today (Wednesday 2 March) to support research and development, as well as the manufacturing of new drugs, devices and diagnostics.

Of the funding announced today, up to £200 million will be invested to enable research to better access NHS data through Trusted Research Environments and digital clinical trial services. This will make crucial data more securely and quickly available for research, while offering the highest levels of privacy. It will also ensure that the NHS will be able to deliver new life-saving treatments to patients faster, and will support more diverse and inclusive clinical research to tackle health inequalities and improve patient care.

A further £60 million will support commercial-scale manufacturing investments by companies at the leading-edge of innovation, from cell and gene therapies and earlier and better diagnostic technologies, to medical devices.

The funding for manufacturing investments will be distributed through the new Life Sciences Innovative Manufacturing Fund (LSIMF), following the success of the earlier Medicines and Diagnostics Manufacturing Transformation Fund.

The fund will help support the growth of the UK’s world-leading life sciences sector while also supporting the government’s levelling up agenda by creating jobs and ensuring the UK continues to be an attractive investment destination.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said:

The past 2 years have shown just how important our fantastic medical and life sciences industry is for the UK not only in dealing with the pandemic, but also for the vital economic opportunities they create throughout the country.

By providing £260 million to boost UK medical manufacturing and medical research, we are ensuring the industry has the support it needs to improve patient outcomes and generate high-skilled jobs while building up Britain’s manufacturing base in the process.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said:

NHS data is making the whole world safer and healthier and has been vital in saving thousands of lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This funding will ensure the UK can continue to help researchers access NHS data securely so patients can benefit from more innovative treatments faster.

I’m absolutely committed to boosting the UK’s position as a world-leading research centre, transforming our health service and ensuring the NHS continues to deliver excellent care for patients.

The £200 million funding into the healthcare system will deliver on government commitments set out in the Life Sciences Vision, to harness NHS data to drive health research and innovation, building on pioneering work carried out during the pandemic to develop diagnostics and treatment for COVID-19.

This includes the RECOVERY trial which made use of NHS data through NHS DigiTrials and led to the discovery of Dexamethasone, the world’s first proven treatment for COVID-19, in just 100 days, which has saved at least a million lives across the world.

By making it quicker and easier to set up and run clinical trials, this funding will also ensure the UK continues to be at the forefront of life sciences research. The new infrastructure will supercharge efforts to improve the nation’s health and to deliver the Life Sciences Vision, including in crucial areas such as cancer, cardiovascular medicine and mental health.

The UK has one of the strongest Medical and Life Sciences industries globally, with a turnover of over £88.9 billion, supporting 268,000 jobs across the country. As set out in the Life Sciences Vision, the government is committed to harnessing the UK’s existing strengths to continue to attract large scale manufacturing and the well-paid job opportunities that come with it.

The pandemic further reinforced the importance of the UK’s life sciences industry and of having a resilient UK-based medical manufacturing industry and supply chains, with the UK government investing hundreds of millions of pounds into manufacturing a successful vaccine through the work of the Vaccines Taskforce.

Today’s manufacturing funding announcement is part of the government’s ongoing commitment to the life sciences sector, with £354 million allocated to life sciences manufacturing through the Global Britain Investment Fund. This has also included funding to strengthen UK vaccine manufacturing resilience for the COVID response and potential future health emergencies, among other projects.

Science Minister George Freeman said:

UK leadership in the discovery of new diagnostics, devices and drugs – from gene therapy to digital stents – is now driving our work in new and advanced manufacturing of medical technologies.

Our new Life Sciences Innovative Manufacturing Fund will not only help further develop domestic medical manufacturing capabilities and enhance Britain’s ability to respond to future pandemics, but will also help create well-paying, high-skilled jobs across the whole UK – a vital part of our plans for levelling up.

Chair of The Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP) Brian Henry said:

The Life Sciences Innovative Manufacturing Fund is an excellent development. Science has already created the next generation of vaccines and advanced therapies for patients, we want to see the UK take its place as a world-leading centre for manufacturing them.

The Fund will help boost the UK’s attractiveness as a place for companies to invest in the latest technology, creating jobs and growth and making the UK a manufacturing as well as a science superpower.

Dr Ben Goldacre, Director of the DataLab, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, said:

This funding announced today will drive forward the longstanding ambition to broaden access to NHS data while preserving patient privacy, by building secure Trusted Research Environments that support modern, transparent, efficient approaches to data analysis.

The Life Sciences Innovative Manufacturing Fund is the successor to the Medicines and Diagnostics Manufacturing Transformation Fund (MDMTF). It was also established to help grow and strengthen the UK’s medicines and diagnostics manufacturing industry by encouraging companies to use new technologies, and to build or expand facilities throughout the country.

Companies awarded funding through the MDMTF, announced for the first time today, include:

  • Ortho Clinicals Diagnostics UK, which will expand its innovative biological diagnostic product lines, at its Pencoed, Wales site
  • Custom Pharmaceuticals Limited, which plans to build a new facility in Brighton that will create capacity to manufacture and develop difficult to handle, high potency medicines for the UK NHS and export biopharmaceuticals market
  • Randox Laboratories, which will build a new large-scale manufacturing facility in Northern Ireland.