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How Big is the UK Life Sciences Industry?

how big is the uk life sciences industry

The life sciences industry is responsible for creating a range of innovative technologies, including medicines and biotechnology, that are used to improve the lives and wellbeing of humans, animals and other organisms.

Over the last few decades, the UK's life sciences industry has grown exponentially, meaning we're now one of the largest suppliers of life science products in Europe!

According to a recent report released by the Department for International Trade:

"The UK has more medical products in development than any other country in Europe. This generates a turnover of £74bn and exports of £30bn."

The UK's pharmaceutical industry plays an important role in researching and creating new drugs and medicines to treat a range of illnesses. In total, one fifth of the industrial spend on the UK's research and development is allocated to pharmaceutical companies - this makes it one of the biggest and most important life sciences industries.

To give you an idea of the type of money spent on pharmaceutical research each year, here are a few statistics from the UK Government's Life Science Sector Data 2020.

  • Between 2007-2011, the pharmaceutical industry's spend on research and development grew steadily, peaking at £4.9bn in 2011. This accounted for 1/4 of the UL's R&D spending at that time.
  • When looking at the share of patients we recruit into global pharmaceutical studies, the UK ranks 7th among competitor counties. The number of participants in commerical studies has nearly doubles from 25,760 in 2013/14 to now 46,064 in 2018/19. This is largely due to additional support from the NIHR Clinical Research Network.
  • In 2018, the number of people in the UK that were employed in pharmaceutical manufacturing roles was 50,100. This is an increase of 6,000 (15%) compared to 2016.

As you can see, almost all aspects of the pharmaceutical life science sectors have grown over the past few decades, this same trend of growth is echoed throughout the life sciences industry.

Let's take a closer look at the percentage of people graduating with life science degrees including mathematics, science and statistics to get a better idea of where the life sciences industry is heading...

Life science graduates

When looking at the number of people graduating with an undergraduate degree or equivalent in a life science field, we can see that there's been a consistent upward trend.

in 2018, the UK ranked second for the proportion of graduates with a natural science, mathematics or statistics based degree, beating other countries like Germany, France, USA, and Russia. The country with the largest propotion of life science graduates in that year was India!

What does that tell us about the size of the life sciences industry in the UK? Well, it's clear to see that things are constantly growing and developing, but that's not really a surprise.

Life science industries play a vital role in improving our medical knowledge and capabilities, and with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they've never been more important. We expect that the UK's life sciences industry will continue to grow over the coming years, so this is a great place for graduates and job seekers to look for roles.

Here at Hyper Recruitment Solutions, we specialise in helping talented scientists find their dream roles. We have a number of life science positions available on our site that you can browse by clicking the button below.

Life Science Roles >

Read More: Health Secretary Matt Hancock Announces Plans to Transform UK Life Sciences Sector