Is medical research in the government’s plans for growth?

Posted on November 29, 2010 by

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George Osborne was in the Commons today to make his Autumn statement. As part of this he has launched a Growth Review with Vince Cable at BIS. This announces some policies and a plan to keep reviewing growth and the policies supporting it over the next four years. It is quite business-focused but some of the initiatives it proposes will have an impact for all the funders – including medical research charities – that together make up the life sciences sector.

Background

Back in October when George Osborne announced the spending review a few areas were singled out as growth areas over the next four years – one of these was medical research

In the run up to and after the spending review, government was working on a white paper on growth outlining their thinking for the future and developing some new policy initiatives. This has been published today.

What does it say?

The Path to Strong Sustainable and balanced growth sets out government’s plan to ensure growth is supported right across UK business.The first section details a series of actions government is taking now to try and encourage and support growth in the UK – this includes a few aimed particularly at supporting the life sciences industry:

  • the investment of £200 million into setting up Technology and Innovation Centres that was announced in the spending review (and the Commons Science & Technology Committee are conducting an inquiry into).
  • A plan to consult on R&D tax credits and their role in supporting innovation and productive in the UK – something the Dyson report made proposals on which this consultation will take into account
  • creating a patent box which will introduce a preferential regime for profits arising from patents with the aim of encouraging companies to locate the high-value jobs and activity associated with the development, manufacture and exploitation of patents in the UK.
  • streamlining regulation

The second section of the report sets out the government’s plan to have an ongoing review of growth – requiring all government departments to demonstrate the action they are taking to support growth. This review is going to continue throughout the rest of this parliament with the plan being to keep the government’s agenda focused on growth throughout.

The first phase of the Review will focus the Government’s efforts on an initial set of issues, reporting back with policy proposals by Budget 2011. The Government will also set out the next phase of cross-Government priorities at Budget 2011. This relentless focus on growth will continue to form the basis of this Government’s agenda for the rest of Parliament.

Healthcare and life sciences is one of six sectors the government intends to begin looking at.

What does this mean for us?

This paper is very business-focused but medical research charities are an important member of the life sciences sector in the UK, investing over £1 billion into medical research in 2009-10 and working collaboratively with other public and private funders. Initiatives to support business will naturally open up more opportunities for business and charity funders to work together. But broader initiatives to support life science growth such as the creation of Technology Innovation Centres, changes to Intellectual Property arrangements and streamlining the process of regulation are very important to charities and have the potential to maximise their ability to fund research in the UK and ultimately help ensure discoveries reach the people who need them.

AMRC responded jointly with the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), Association of British Healthcare Industries (ABHI), BioIndustry Association (BIA), British In Vitro Diagnostic Association (BIVDA) and Cancer Research UK (CRUK) – check it out here.

Posted in: Policy