SCI calls for ambitious and practical industrial strategy for life sciences and clean tech

11 July 2023 | Simon Frost

SCI has today launched a landmark report today highlighting the urgent need for an ambitious industrial strategy to prevent the potential loss of £230 billion and secure the country's economic growth. The study, commissioned by SCI and conducted by LEK Consulting, emphasises the necessity of capitalising on the UK's strengths in science and innovation for commercialisation and scalability.

Industrial Strategy: Scaling and Commercializing UK Science and Technology
Download the report, UK Industrial Strategy: Scaling and Commercializing UK Science and Technology, here.

According to the analysis, UK Industrial Strategy: Scaling and Commercializing UK Science and Technology, implementing a comprehensive industrial strategy with a focus on life sciences and clean technology could result in a £230 billion economic boost by 2030. Such a strategy has the potential to create 180,000 high-value jobs in clean tech and 60,000 in the life science sector.

SCI President Paul Drechsler CBE spoke to the BBC World at One programme today about the need for a robust industrial strategy to support the UK's world-leading science base. Listen above.

As reported in The Times today, the key elements identified in the research include increased R&D spending to align with global peers; simplified tax relief systems; wider availability of R&D tax credits; and reform in pension fund investments. Furthermore, the report claims that flexible immigration policies are crucial to bridge the skills gap and attract skilled international talent.

AMTE battery story
Numerous companies, institutions and organisations have long been warning of an increasing lack of competitiveness in the UK – we reported recently on this example in the battery industry.

The report reveals that economic value would stem from increased capital investment, including a 2% rise in pharmaceutical exports, and the creation of 240,000 well-paid, long-term manufacturing jobs. It also suggests that doubling the number of start-ups reaching IPO in the UK is within reach.

However, the lack of a firm government policy committed to a comprehensive industrial strategy is hindering progress. The absence of clarity and consistency is causing confusion among start-ups and companies, discouraging them from investing in new science and innovation in the UK.

SCI has been urging the UK government to deliver a new industrial strategy since the previous strategy was quietly dropped in 2021 – the tweet above relates to a letter in the Financial Times from Sharon Todd in October 2022.

SCI has warned that the UK's life sciences sector ‘risks atrophy’ without immediate action. Over the past two decades, the country's global market share in pharmaceuticals has declined from 11% to a mere 3% in 2021. Meanwhile, the global clean tech market, valued at £1.2 trillion, is projected to grow by 12% annually until 2030. However, due to the lack of a cohesive industrial strategy, the UK is falling behind more focused countries in this sector.

SCI Chief Executive Sharon Todd said: ‘For too long, “industrial strategy” has been used as a catchphrase rather than a tangible and actionable plan to drive economic growth. The UK has a world-leading science base, and we need to maximise this commercial potential. An ambitious and practical industrial strategy focused on our science base would mean the UK would attract investment from global scientific companies, rather than lose out to other countries.

‘More focus needs to be given to creating value from science, supporting start-ups to scale, and creating an environment that attracts valuable scale-up capital.

‘This research forms the business case for the SCI’s forthcoming Science and Innovation Manifesto. If adopted by the main political parties, this would both spur economic growth and make sure that billions of pounds in large-scale commercial science investment are not lost to better prepared rivals.’

Speaking to the BBC's World at One today, SCI President Paul Drechsler CBE said: ‘The UK is a brilliant nation when it comes to science. And what SCI has been looking at is, what would it take to turn all that brilliant science, all those molecules into money – into economic benefit? It's very clear that if we managed that better, we could generate a lot more money for the economy – about £230 billion by 2030 – we could create a lot more jobs; and on top of that, we would make this country much better, not only at the front end of science – ie the laboratory – but the back end, which is building the factories to create the big, big number of jobs.’

Paul Drechsler
Speaking at SCI's inaugural Sustainability and Innovation Awards at the palace of Westminster in May, SCI President Paul Drechsler CBE said: ‘Our great scientists and innovators are leaders in their fields. For a nation the size of the UK, we have a huge presence in terms of the academic papers that sets the stage for innovation and technological leadership. But we need clarity on policy if we are to build on these developments and remain leaders,’

John Goddard, Vice-Chair for Sustainability at LEK Consulting, emphasises that while the UK excels in science and technology development, successful scale-up and commercialisation remain elusive. ‘Globally, there is increasing focus on national industrial strategies with significant progress being made. Now is the time for the UK to grasp this opportunity to accelerate our GDP growth,’ he said.

The research underscores the critical need for a focused industrial strategy to secure the UK's economic future. By capitalising on its scientific strengths, implementing robust policies, and attracting international talent, the UK can position itself as a global leader in sectors such as life sciences and clean technology, creating jobs and driving substantial economic growth in the process.

Read the report, UK Industrial Strategy: Scaling and Commercializing UK Science and Technology, here.

Show me news from
All themes
All categories
All years
search by