In 2017, the UK Government published the Life Science Industrial Strategy, billed as “A report to the Government from the life sciences sector” which contained “recommendations for our world leading life sciences industry to drive growth, increase productivity, improve the use of data, reinforce our science base, deepen our skills and secure benefits for patients throughout the United Kingdom”.
This was closely followed by the Life Sciences Sector Deal, a set of agreements that was seen as phase one of implementing the Strategy’s recommendations.
“The deal brings together the government with universities, charities and more than 25 businesses – large and small – to make a joint commitment to invest in all parts of the United Kingdom.”
Life Sciences Sector Deal (2017)
Then, in 2018, the Life Sciences Sector Deal 2 was published, described as further agreements that “deepens our partnership with industry, universities and charities”.
In these documents, developing clusters of industry activity throughout the country (especially in support of existing life science activity) was seen as a high priority. One of the areas highlighted in the reports is the “Northern Powerhouse”.
The Northern Powerhouse includes the North West, North East, and Yorkshire regions – they account for 15 million people and one million private sector businesses. If this area were a country, it would be amongst the biggest economies in Europe.
In the Northern Powerhouse area, there are over 1,000 life science and healthcare companies. Employees in the life science sector here now account for 21% of the UK’s total life science workforce, having grown by over 9% since 2012.
In 2015, the area exported £7.3bn in pharmaceutical products – 45% of all medicinal exports.
By 2017, the value of the sector to the Northern Powerhouse region was estimated to be over £13.6bn – with more investment already secured (including £1.6bn over 5 years from the Northern Health Science Alliance in response to the first Life Sciences Sector Deal).
While the government talks more broadly about the Northern Powerhouse, we also think it’s useful to think about clusters and activities at a regional level, so the rest of this post will only consider the life science sector in the North West…