UK life sciences contribute more than £30bn to economy, report for AstraZeneca finds
Need for continued support and investment to cluster is highlighted by independent research
The UK life sciences industry contribute more than £30billion to the economy, of which £8.44billion comes from clusters, according to independent research commissioned by AstraZeneca.
The Cambridge cluster provides a vital platform for the phenomenal success of the life sciences sector in this country.
The region currently boasts 430 firms and organisations, supports 15,500 people and contributes around £2.9billion annually to the UK economy. Yet such is the power of the economic juggernaut that is Cambridge, says the report, that by 2032 that figure may rise to £4billion.
Andy Williams, vice president for Cambridge strategy and operations at AstraZeneca, said: “A strong science base is one of the jewels in the UK’s crown. Life sciences clusters such as Cambridge, where our global corporate headquarters have been located since May 2016, enable the scientific community to break down traditional boundaries to drive innovation.
“We commissioned this independent research to better understand how the opportunities within this cluster can positively shape its future, as well as the solutions we need to find collectively within this ecosystem to secure its lasting value, and ultimately address unmet patient needs.”
Jonathan Dry, director, oncology bioinformatics at the IMED Biotech Unit, AstraZeneca, said: “In terms of a scientific hub, Cambridge is phenomenal. The city fosters a strong culture of collaboration between not just organisations but sectors too. AstraZeneca is currently working with Microsoft and the University of Cambridge, and is a fantastic example of the cluster in action. We’ve been able to further cancer research more effectively as a result.
“Early-stage research is essential to scientific advancement and patients are beginning to benefit from the science catalysed in clusters. For example, AstraZeneca’s partnership with Cancer Research UK is working to advance precision medicine as well as the potential for combination treatments.
“Together, AstraZeneca and CRUK have several trials in place and a successful symposia programme that is supporting the development of future cancer treatments.”
Andy Neely, pro vice-chancellor for enterprise and business relations at the University of Cambridge, said: “The life sciences play a central role in the Cambridge cluster. Connecting people – especially their skills and ideas – to finance enables the cluster to grow and prosper.
“This report from AstraZeneca is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the Cambridge cluster, and demonstrates that the deep and lasting collaborations between businesses and our local universities are a crucial element underpinning the region’s economic success.”
Yet the report carries with it a warning. Should current levels of talent and investment for the Cambridge cluster not be sustained – and there are threats from Brexit, a slow pipeline of high-calibre recruits and access to funding – the economy could lose more than £7.9billion over the next 15 years (2017-32).
“AstraZeneca has made another strong contribution to our understanding by commissioning this work – we are delighted to have been part of it,” said Claire Ruskin, Cambridge Network CEO.