The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.
Our latest CPIA report features analysis on the Biotechnology sector.
Clinical Professionals Group CEO, Yvette Cleland comments:
“The UK biotech businesses focused within research and experimental development have risen by 65% since 2016 and the Golden Triangle of London/Oxford and Cambridge accounts for 35% of this concentration of companies.
Annual investment reached 2.2 billion in 2018 within life sciences and in January and February of 2019 we saw on average, three new start-ups incorporating per day. Many stakeholders in industry are understandably voicing concerns around the post-Brexit journey, yet to context other interesting news offering hope around UK PLC and its attractiveness, the City of London has now overtaken New York in Fintech with over 2 billion worth of investment in 2019 alone. In fact, more dollars go through the City of London everyday than New York. None of us could be blamed for our frustrations around the outlook and increasing concerns we face with the current state of parliament and politics. However, I would not say our wisdom as a nation is compromised, but politically we may have the MP’s we deserve. The uncertainty will hit a point of no return shortly unless resolved quickly and our path forward is established.
At last count this year there were over 350 biotech’s from the US looking to open affiliates in Europe. The UK with its growing presence, excellent NHS and highly skilled work force allows us to compete head to head with any EU destination whilst also being a healthy competitor to the US Boston/Cambridge and California clusters. Continued uncertainty will simply lead to decisions being made to companies to go elsewhere.
There are commentators that subscribe to the notion that Cambridge (UK) is seen Europe’s leading hub for life sciences, but this is far to parochial. From a geographic and indeed a factual standpoint this is just simply not correct. The Golden Triangle that encompasses Oxford/London/Cambridge and pretty much everything in between would be a far better definition. In this hallowed region we house world-class universities and start-ups, and all of this further complimented by large biopharma with businesses such as AstraZeneca in Cambridge and GSK in Stevenage. In London we now house over 84 biotech’s of which 70% are recent start-ups. Quarter one 2019 saw hiring within the Golden Triangle surge by 78% versus quarter four 2018.
The Golden Triangle ecosystem can go up against the US equivalent in terms of innovation and quality of science. With this success in terms of start-up and investment we expect to see an uplift in positions requiring world leading talent, this of course will fill most companies’ HR and Talent teams with dread based on the current skill shortages and potential stop to the freedom of movement. In August 2019 Boris Johnson confirmed the government’s position on not restricting and in fact fast tracking this key scientific talent into the UK.
As the UK Bioindustry Association (BIA) recently stated “The life sciences sector delivers lifesaving and life-enhancing medicines for patients, provides highly skilled jobs and apprenticeships for people across the country and contributes billions of pounds to the UK economy. Over 250,000 people are employed by the sector. Every year over £30 billion is added to the UK’s GDP by life sciences companies. We are committed to helping the next government achieve our shared goals of building a healthier and more prosperous country for patients, industry and the UK economy”.
So, we have record growth and investment, a surge in vacancies within the Golden Triangle and in the good old days prior to Brexit we would have been so confident in our direction of travel and emerging strength in our formidable life sciences industry. Well Carl Sagan once said “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known” I do wonder if Brexit has gone beyond the incredible.”
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