Home to over 100 startup organisations valued at over £1 billion, the UK is no stranger to innovation.
The UK’s biotech sector has grown by an average of 9.2% every year from 2017, through to 2022 and is the fastest-growing scientific business area in the country.
As the global economy continues to recover from the pandemic and the ongoing war in Ukraine, securing biotech investment in the public market is increasingly competitive in the midst of inflation surges and heightened costs.
In this article, we’ll delve into UK government strategy to reveal how the country is continuing to power biotech industry growth in the face of an increasingly challenging economic landscape.
Read on to discover 3 key drivers of biotech industry growth:
- New bridges between academia and the commercial market
- Innovative regulations
- Strong financial investment
New bridges between academia and the commercial market
The UK has the world’s largest university system, and four of the top ten universities in the world, as well as strong R&D hubs like the Golden Triangle and Northern Powerhouse.
To harness the potential of this established research network, the UK has developed Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF), which helps universities navigate commercialisation in the business and public sectors.
Between 2016, and 2020, the UK government increased Higher Education Innovation Funding from £160 million per year, to £250 million per year, to further incentivise collaborations between universities and the wider business world. Alongside this funding, the UK has also established a Knowledge Exchange Framework between universities to help researchers assess their performance and share best practice to optimise results and drive research forward.
To help establish new routes for organisations and universities to collaborate in biotech and beyond, the UK government is currently exploring new avenues to strengthen communication between the investment community, university investment, and technology transfer offices.
As the UK continues to reshape policy further to its exit from the EU, updating the regulatory process is receiving particular attention to better enable innovation. Driving this regulatory evolution, is the Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform (TIGRR) division.
Under the recommendations of TIGRR, the UK has championed regulatory experimentation, and has introduced a new Regulators’ Pioneer Fund (RPF), which equips regulators with the financial backing required to test and pilot new approaches to regulation that support innovation.
Working with the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the Regulators’ Pioneer Fund funded a novel synthetic dataset to overcome medical device development obstacles associated with accessing representative patient data. Using the synthetic data-set, researchers and companies can now develop and validate medical devices, and AI medical software – helping bring safer, technologically advanced products to market sooner.
Strong financial investment
To succeed in the competitive, cost-conscious business market, biotech innovators require access to the right finance, at the right time to expand.
In 2020, the UK raised £8.8 billion to start and grow innovative businesses – a figure that exceeds the amount both France and Germany invested combined.
Outside of private capital markets, the UK has a range of public interventions designed to equip innovative businesses with the resources required to succeed including Innovate UK and the British Business Bank.
To help strengthen the UK’s approach to funding in the future, the UK is developing new training to upskill the next generation of lenders, to improve risk assessments surrounding innovative businesses.
Alongside this initiative, the UK is increasing public investment into scientific innovation to a record £22 billion, while reducing complexity for innovative companies to access funding with an online finance and innovation hub.
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About the author: Philippa Clark is Head of Scientific Discovery at SRG. Philippa has close to 19 years Life Sciences recruitment experience, supporting Biotechs and start-ups across the Cambridge, Oxford & London bioclusters. Philippa works with customers to provide a range of bespoke talent solutions, talent skill mapping and market analysis.