Follow the green, hi-tec road

A path to UK growth, net zero and health resilience from innovation in medicines manufacturing

A new report from the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP): Follow the green, high-tech road: A path to UK growth, net zero and health resilience from innovation in medicines manufacturing argues that if the UK is to be a global life sciences superpower, it must not only discover and develop the medicines of the future in the UK, but must also manufacture a significant share of them here too.

Within the UK life sciences sector, medicines manufacturing is the largest economic contributor, providing almost 45% of the £36.9bn of GVA delivered by the life sciences industry in 2019, compared to 13% (£4.8bn) from life science research and 42% (£15.7bn) from medical technology manufacturing.

In recent years, global competition for manufacturing investment has intensified. Countries such as the US, France and Ireland are investing heavily in the sector and have attracted major investments as a result, powering export growth. Meanwhile, the UK’s position as a manufacturing leader has declined, and a formerly strong trade balance has become a deficit.

The MMIP report sets out recommendations to reverse this decline and drive growth, building on recent successes like the Advanced Therapies Manufacturing Action Plan, which has resulted in early UK leadership in cell and gene therapies manufacture.

Brian Henry, Chair of MMIP said: “The UK’s life sciences sector has tremendous potential to drive significant growth. But it is not enough to discover the medicines and vaccines of the future here, if companies then make them at scale elsewhere.

“We believe the UK can lead the world in innovative advanced manufacture of new therapies, drive more sustainable medicines manufacture and address gaps in our supply chain footprint.

“Our recommendations will help create the right, pro-investment ecosystem for companies to choose the UK when deciding where to place their next manufacturing facility.

“A sustained effort is needed to capitalise on the UK’s traditional strength in early-stage science and translate it into medicines manufacturing success – with all the jobs, investment and long-term growth that comes with it.”

Life sciences manufacturing employs 115,200 people in over 200 sites right across the country, with regions such as Yorkshire, the North-East and North-West England benefitting significantly from recent investments by the sector. These jobs are high quality and well-paid, generating an average GVA contribution to the economy of £128,000 per employee, and encompass opportunities for STEM school leavers, university graduates, and people changing careers later in life.

Manufacturing investments have long lead times, hence the report stresses that the UK must plan now for 2030 and beyond, focusing on future healthcare and economic needs and ensure the right government support is consistently in place over several years to deliver a competitive global performance.

MMIP welcomed the first tranche of the Government’s existing Life Sciences Innovative Manufacturing Fund (LSIMF), worth £17m in government funding, which unlocked a further £260m in private sector investment, safeguarding 199 existing jobs and creating 320 new jobs.

Equally welcome was the recent government announcement to create a Biomanufacturing Fund to incentivise new investment and additional funding for innovation projects via Innovate UK’s Transforming Medicines Manufacturing Programme.

Under nine key recommendations, the report shows how increasing such Government investment, alongside other policy changes, could release a further £15bn in company investment over ten years, driving UK growth from leadership in sustainable, innovative medicines manufacturing within a pro-innovation life sciences ecosystem:

To drive growth from leadership in environmentally sustainable manufacturing:

  1. Implement a three-point plan to deliver global leadership in environmentally sustainable medicines manufacturing: develop an internationally recognised standard for greenhouse gas emissions; develop a technology and innovation roadmap for environmentally sustainable medicines manufacturing; and establish the infrastructure to enable net zero medicines manufacture
  2. To drive growth from leadership in manufacturing innovation:
  3. £1.1bn over four years to provide sustained, predictable and accessible innovation funding and incentives, comprising £200m for collaborative R&D grants and £900m over four years for medicines manufacturing capital grant funding to unlock £6bn of industry investment
  4. Create a five-year digital innovation in medicines manufacturing technology roadmap, including establishing a world-class UK Medicines Manufacturing Data Institute and funding next-generation oligonucleotide manufacturing capacity
  5. To drive growth by fostering a pro-innovation operating environment:
  6. Set internationally competitive R&D tax credits, including relief for capital expenditure, and long-term certainty on capital allowances
  7. Establish a medicines manufacturing investment “front door”
  8. Secure a leading global talent base, including providing additional funding for flexible biomanufacturing skills building on the successful programmes such as the Advanced Therapy Apprenticeship Programme (ATAC) and Skills and Training Network (ATSTN)
  9. Improve the UK commercial operating environment
  10. Strengthen health resilience through trade policy and streamlined regulation
  11. Develop a UK medicines manufacturing investment dashboard

Find out more about how Merit is accelerating the development of life-saving treatments faster than ever before, on page 7 of the report. Download the report