1:06 PM
 | 
Oct 26, 2017
 |  BC Innovations  |  Strategy

Capital call

John Bell’s recipe for boosting U.K. biotech post-Brexit

Tasked by the U.K. government with outlining a plan to grow its life sciences industry post-Brexit, John Bell has laid out aggressive goals for creating a sustainable biotech sector, and wants to see the country develop the infrastructure necessary to attract more public market participation and encourage long-term investors.

Bell believes the U.K.’s strength lies in the NHS’s wealth of patient data, which he thinks can propel the country to a leadership position in genomics-driven drug discovery and diagnostics.

Bell is Regius professor of medicine at the University of Oxford and chairman of the U.K.’s Office for the Strategic Coordination of Health Research. For over a decade he has advised the government on scientific matters and helped coordinate the research functions of major U.K. scientific institutions, including the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Medical Research Council (MRC). He was also a founder of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, and served on the scientific advisory boards of AstraZeneca plc, Roche and its Genentech Inc. unit, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as Roche’s board of directors.

In his Aug. 30 report, Bell laid down some solid markers for the sector, such as creating four new £20 billion ($26.4 billion) companies within 10 years and increasing the number of U.K.-based clinical trials by 50% in the next five years. The report also calls for creation of two to three “new industries,” such as artificial intelligence (AI)-based diagnostics or technologies for aging-related needs (see “U.K. Life Sciences Strategy Goals”).

Table: U.K. life sciences strategy goals

In an August report, Prof. Sir John Bell made recommendations for strengthening the life sciences industry in the U.K. and for improving patient access to the industry’s innovations. Selected recommendations are shown below. Goals are listed according to the priority documented in the report. Source: Bell, J. “Life sciences industrial strategy -- A report to the Government from the life sciences sector.” (2017)

GoalMeasures to meet goalTimelineRecommendations for attaining
Foster new industriesCreate 2-3 "new industries" around technologies for genomics, diagnostic uses of artificial intelligence, and aging support10 years• Use NHS cradle-to-grave data to develop predictive diagnostics and new technologies for healthy aging
• Give NHS "golden shares" in newcos formed using NHS data, forcing them to stay in...

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