Westminster Health Forum

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Priorities for the UK life sciences sector - policy, regulation, growth, competitiveness, research, innovation, and learning from the experience of the pandemic

Morning, Tuesday, 20th July 2021


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will consider the priorities for the life sciences sector.


It will be an opportunity to assess progress and next steps following the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy update and the Life Sciences Recovery Roadmap published last year - and against the backdrop of an evolving regulatory landscape aimed at improving access to innovation.


Areas for discussion include:

  • how to improve competitiveness for the UK life sciences sector following Brexit and the pandemic
  • options and priorities for supporting growth and innovation in the sector, as well as tackling barriers
  • what has been learned from the process of research in life sciences during the pandemic

We are pleased to be able to include keynote sessions with Dr Nicole Mather, Non-Executive Director, Health Research Authority; and Executive Partner and Life Sciences Lead, IBM; and Dr Richard Torbett, Chief Executive, The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.


The agenda will bring out latest thinking on:

  • policy - progress in the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, and next steps for the sector
  • investment and infrastructure - priorities for development to boost UK competitiveness
  • international collaboration - opportunities following the UK leaving the EU
  • wider impact of health research - supporting growth and innovation in the sector to meet ambitions across health and social care, including improving access

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from BEIS; DIT; DHSC; Government Office for Science; MHRA; The Scottish Government and the Welsh Government; as well as parliamentary pass-holders from The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.


The agenda:

  • Assessing progress in the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy and next steps for the sector
  • Boosting UK competitiveness - priorities for investment, developing infrastructure and effective supply chains, and the opportunities for international collaboration
  • The COVID-19 response - taking forward lessons from vaccine and treatment development for the future of regulation
  • Strategies for supporting growth in the UK life sciences sector to meet wider ambitions in health and social care
  • Priorities for innovation and next steps for clinical research - preventing, diagnosing and treating chronic diseases, improving opportunities for patient access, and overcoming barriers to development
  • Key policy priorities for the future of the life sciences industry in the UK

Key areas for discussion:

Progress and next steps for the sector:

  • funding and investment - looking at:
    • new funding proposals set out in the Spring Budget, as well as other proposals in the UK Research and Development Roadmap, and the Life Sciences Recovery Roadmap
    • further opportunities for funding to improve the outcomes set out in the Industrial Strategy, and to open up opportunities for further development
  • progress on the strategy - with priorities highlighted as NHS Collaboration, research and development, infrastructure, clinical research, genomics, skills, and advanced therapeutics
  • next steps:
    • what is needed for the future improvement of the sector
    • implications of the responses to the UK R&D Roadmap survey citing the major areas for improvement within R&D as funding, collaboration, diversity, education and skills; and a clear direction
  • regulation:
    • opportunities for the UK to lead on regulatory frameworks for emerging technologies
    • ways to achieve diversification and flexibility in the regulatory framework
    • priorities for the NICE five-year strategy, and the Life Sciences Recovery Roadmap highlighting regulation reform as a key way to proceed
  • the Commercial Medicines Unit - what is needed the Unit in order for it achieve its goal of ensuring faster appraisals and patient access to innovative medicines

Responding to changes made in the pandemic:

  • regulation:
    • the impact of changes put in place in response to the pandemic, such as the pace of rolling regulation for vaccines
    • what can be learned and built on to enable future market and patient access to innovation
    • how can the NHS and MHRA work together to support this and the repurposing of medicines to support other patients
  • Brexit:
    • opportunities and challenges presented by the evolving regulatory landscape in the wake of the UK’s exit from the EU
    • options, strategies and next steps for taking forward a collaborative approach with regulators
  • infrastructure capability - how can the manufacturing and research infrastructure capabilities be put in place to:
    • support long-term developments to vaccines and treatment
    • enable faster research processes and better patient access to innovative treatment
  • priorities for collaboration - looking at:
    • what can be learned from how collaborative practices among different sectors were transformed during the pandemic
    • how this can be used to aid the growth of the wider sector in delivering aims according to the areas set out in the Recovery Roadmap

UK competitiveness:

  • priorities for investment - looking at how funding should be directed following the Government pledging new funds in the Spring Budget, and alternative proposals, including
    • research and development tax reliefs and the Future Fund: Breakthrough to be launched later this year
    • £14.6bn pledged for R&D in 2021/22, with more committed for the future
    • £20m made available in the Medicines and Diagnostics Manufacturing Transformation Fund
  • developing skills capacity - priorities for upskilling and reskilling the workforce, and building on the Life Sciences Skills Strategy
  • supply chain resilience:
    • how best to improve UK manufacturing abilities, and the robustness of supply chains for medicines and medical devices
    • opportunities for recently announced investment in the life sciences manufacturing sector
  • Brexit:
    • navigating the changes resulting from leaving the EU, as well as opportunities for new directions of growth
    • overcoming challenges for integration such as research partnerships
    • opportunities for future international collaboration

Addressing how best to support growth in the sector:

  • scaling up and improving collaboration:
    • assessing support for enhancing collaboration between actors, as well as patients and local health systems
    • how this fits with the Recovery Roadmap’s outline of the use of collaboration during the pandemic to work towards the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan
  • data collection - considering how to improve practices on collecting health data so as to identify areas for growth
  • employment - developing and delivering a plan for improving skilled worker recruitment and retention

Driving innovation, supporting patient access and evaluating barriers to growth:

  • chronic diseases - looking at the role and priorities of the life sciences sector in meeting challenges around transforming the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases by 2030
  • genomics - opportunities for securing earlier interventions for patients, and to build on previous commitments, such as the aim to map five million genomes in the UK by 2023/24
  • effective collaboration - enabling new technologies to be taken up by the NHS, including ensuring that clinical settings:
    • are equipped to properly receive them
    • have the staffing and training processes in place to support the application throughout the whole country
  • regulation - designing a framework that is able to:
    • facilitate rapid delivery and set up of innovative solutions
    • support the growth of the industry, supply chains and partnerships

Priorities for the future and what is needed to sustain this level of growth:

  • the Recovery Roadmap - what are the next steps, and how can new funding be used effectively
  • improving collaboration - building partnerships across the whole of the UK in order to maximise on innovation and the benefits of the UK’s position in the sector
  • long-term goals - discussing the wider ambitions of the sector, with funding for R&D dedicated until 2027, as well as the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan

A scan of relevant developments: [back to the agenda]

  • the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy - with recommendations to government for the long-term success of the sector, and an update last year outlining what has been achieved since the original strategy, and where new opportunities can be created in the sector
  • Life Sciences Skills Strategy:
    • coming out of the Life Sciences Sector Deal 2 last year
    • highlighting how the sector will attract, retain, train and develop the research, manufacturing and technical skills needed for the sector with ambitions for 133,000 jobs in the sector by 2030
  • the NICE 5-year strategy - with aims to:
    • build on the flexibility of guidance during the pandemic to ensure efficiency while maintaining trusted methods
    • work more collaboratively with the life sciences sector to speed up guidance relating to the adoption of new technologies, and to monitor the adaptation of guidance
    • evolve from producing full guidelines to more incremental ones, to allow for faster and more cohesive updates
  • Medicines and Medical Devices Act - with:
    • plans to appoint a Commissioner for Patient Safety in relation to medicines and medical devices
    • provisions on the enforcement of regulations, and the protection of health and safety
  • 2021 Budget:
    • Future Fund: Breakthrough - the announcement of the £375m fund, launching later this year, for UK-wide investment in highly innovative companies, such as those working in life sciences, that are aiming to raise at least £20m, encouraging private sector companies to invest in R&D
    • a review of Research & Development tax reliefs - with their launch outlined in the Budget, aiming to make sure the UK remains a competitive location for cutting-edge research
    • Build Back Better: Our Plan for Growth - published as part of the 2021 Budget
      • focusing on skills and innovation as two of the main areas for funding
      • sustaining growth and UK competitiveness through regulatory reform
  • the UK Research and Development Roadmap - from BEIS last year, with the summary of R&D Roadmap survey responses published in January, including progress made on the roadmap, and next steps for the sector
  • the Life sciences Recovery Roadmap - a joint sector report to the Life Sciences COVID-19 Response Group with a focus on capitalising on the progress made due to the pandemic, and supporting wider aims for the life sciences sector
  • Medicines and Diagnostics Manufacturing Transformation Fund - £20m fund announced to deliver improved opportunities for manufacturing, investment, and supply chain resilience across the UK
  • the Genome UK strategy - launched to secure the UK’s status as a global leader in genomics and building on ambitions to analyse five million genomes in the UK by 2023/24
  • the NHS Long Term Plan - with ambitions to improve patient access to innovative technologies through research aims and funding, as well as expanding infrastructure
  • the Health and Social Care White Paper:
    • aiming to improve health and social care for all, continuing aims from the Long Term Plan
    • with ambitions to continue the innovation and development seen through the pandemic, encourage prevention, and join up care
  • COVID-19 vaccine approval - the MHRA giving approval of vaccines from a range of providers, with varying approaches, and more sources and supplies coming on stream following the use of the rolling review regulatory process used for public health emergencies

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology and officials from BEIS; the Department for International Trade; the Department of Health and Social Care; the Government Office for Science; the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency; The Scottish Government and the Welsh Government.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, as well as from other stakeholders from across the health and life sciences sector, including industry representatives, pharmaceutical and medical device companies, research and development organisations, executive agencies, regulators, healthcare professionals, the independent and third sector, patient groups, manufacturers, law firms and consultancies, academics and think tanks, together with reporters from the national and specialist media.


This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference



Keynote Speakers

Dr Nicole Mather

Non-Executive Director, Health Research Authority; and Executive Partner and Life Sciences Lead, IBM

Dr Richard Torbett

Chief Executive, The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry

Speakers

Dr Séamus O’Neill

Chief Executive, Northern Health Science Alliance

Andrew Aldridge

Partner and Head of Marketing, Deepbridge Capital

Gisela Abbam

Chair, British Science Association

Doris-Ann Williams MBE

Chief Executive, BIVDA

Carla Deakin

Programme Director, Commercial and Managed Access, NICE

Professor Neil Anderson

President, The Association for Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine (ACB)