What will the £650 million be spent on?
According to a UK Government press release, the mind-blowing budget will be spent and split (mainly) into these four categories:
£250 million: to incentivise pension schemes and invest in up-and-coming science and tech firms.
£154 million: to increase the capacity of the UK's biological data bank, aiding existing and future studies.
£121 million: to improve commercial clinical trials and to provide medicine to patients faster.
£48 million: to kick-start scientific innovation in the case of future health emergencies.
The remaining £77 million is set to be spent on re-launching the Academic Health Science Network to emphasise best practices within the industry. The NHS, local communities, charities, universities, and colleges will be urged to partake in this new network to share their knowledge and expertise with one another
Interestingly, some of the money will also be spent on planning for the new East West Rail (EWR), which aims to improve transport connections between Cambridge and Oxford - two of the biggest life science hubs in the UK. It is suggested that this will help to develop the life science sector on a progressive and academic scale.
Why does the life science sector need government funding?
The life science sector contributes greatly to the UK's economy. In fact, it is one of the most financially influential sectors. In 2021, the life science industry was worth £94 billion to the UK economy, revealing a staggering 9% increase from 2020. There are no signs of this contribution reducing over the next few years, either.
This comes as no surprise, since the world's first Covid vaccine was created and developed by the 280,000 people employed within the UK's life science sector. And that is no mean feat!
How has the life science sector responded to the announcement?
As you can imagine, the announcement of £650 million in funding has generated feelings of excitement, positivity, and enthusiasm for the future developments of the industry. The funding essentially marks a new chapter for the life science sector. A lot more is now possible with this new funding, and it's essential that we use it to our advantage, and for the good of society.
Science and Technology Secretary, Chloe Smith, stated:
"It will support advances in public health...we can all have happier, healthier, more productive lives, delivering a virtuous circle of benefits to society and the economy."
In response to the budget set aside for the East West Rail (EWR), Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, commented:
"The cities of Oxford and Cambridge are renowned across the globe for their academic excellence - East West Rail will be vital in allowing them to thrive for generations to come and help grow the economy."
Stakeholders from the Bioindustry Association, the British Pharmaceutical Industry Association, and the British HealthTech Industries Association have also expressed their support for the funding.