Life sciences is a sector that operates at the cutting-edge of technological developments and last week [7 December] the second Life Sciences Sector Deal was announced. The Great West region, including the University of Bristol, was recognised in the report for its flourishing life science industry, due to its collaboration between more established technology and digital businesses.
The deal announced a £1.3 billion industry-government investment in the UK economy and a new partnership driving early disease detection, with global biopharmaceutical company UCB investing around £1 billion in research and development, including in a new state-of-the-art facility.
This builds on the government’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy published in December last year, which recognised the importance of regional clusters and followed intense collaboration between life sciences organisations and the GW4 Alliance and GW4’s regional strengths such as convergence with AI, high performance computing, quantum technologies and world-leading academic expertise. Places continues to be one of five key commitments within the deal, which this time round has a strong focus on technology and digital innovation.
Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, said: "I want the UK to have the most advanced health and care system on the planet. Technology and artificial intelligence have the potential to revolutionise healthcare by unlocking the next generation of treatments, diagnosing diseases before symptoms appear and helping patients take greater control of their own health."
The report showcases examples from the University including two spin-out companies. The first is KWS BioTest Ltd , a leading contract research organisation specialising in immunology oncology discovery testing services. The second is Ziylo Ltd , a specialist chemistry company which could transform the treatment of diabetes improving the lives of millions of people around the world. Novo Nordisk acquired Ziylo Ltd in staged acquisition with a potential deal value that could exceed £640 million, one of the largest in the sector during the period since the Life Science Strategy was launched.
It also highlights the University’s new £43 million Quantum Technology Innovation Centre , based in the Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus , to accelerate life sciences industrial impact in three areas:
- improving the speed of genomic data processing and drug discovery;
- quantum enhanced sensing and imaging for diagnostic devices and cell biology;
- quantum communication for data security, for example medical records.
Professor Nishan Canagarajah , Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of Bristol and a member of the GW4 Board, said: "The University is pleased to be recognised in the second Life Sciences Sector Deal. It is rewarding to see our pioneering research being developed where it can have major societal impact and make a real difference to people’s lives.
Dr Sarah Perkins, GW4 Director, added: "We welcome the second Life Sciences Sector Deal and government’s renewed commitment to a place-based approach. We would encourage government to continue to invest and work with regional clusters as important drivers of economic growth and catalysts for scientific advancement. GW4 brings together world-leading capabilities across life sciences as demonstrated by our regional businesses innovative technology and our collaborative working with Life Sciences Hub Wales."