Where is government on implementing the life sciences strategy?

Posted on February 29, 2012 by


A couple of interesting parliamentary questions asked by Adam Afriyie about progress on the Life Sciences Strategy and the recommendations to improve innovation in the NHS announced on 5 December outline the work afoot so far to put some of the plans into action:

  • We can expect more details of the Biomedical Catalyst – targeted funding available to SMEs and universities to support the development of promising early-stage drugs into new treatments –  later this spring.
  • The consultation on the Earlier Access Scheme – looking at whether new treatments could potentially be given conditional authorisation, their assessment could be accelerated or it could even be licensed early meaning that drugs can be developed faster and patients can benefit from them sooner – will be out in March.
  • The Life Sciences Advisory Board is being established and may be developed from an existing group. The Life Sciences Champions (Professor Sir John Bell and Chris Brinsmead) are working on what this board will look like.
  • Cross-sector ‘Task and Finish’ groups have been established in the NHS to lead the implementation of the recommendations on improving innovation.

Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what recent progress his Department has made in implementing the Strategy for UK Life Sciences. [96761]

Mr Willetts: The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is working closely with other Government Departments and Regulators to drive the Strategy forward. Progress to date includes:

The appointment of two independent Life Sciences Champions: Professor Sir John Bell and Chris Brinsmead. They will act as advocates of the UK life sciences industry; provide support and challenge on implementation of the Strategy; and report bi-annually to Ministers and No. 10 on progress.

We have commenced a review of the existing governance structures across the life sciences sector to identify whether a suitable group already exists to act as the Life Sciences Advisory Board. My officials are working with the Life Sciences Champions and key Departments to develop appropriate programme management and metrics.

The Medical Research Council and the Technology Strategy Board are working on details of the Biomedical Catalyst which is expected to be launched later in the spring.

The Medicines and Health Care products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is bringing forward consultation proposals for an ‘Earlier Access Scheme’. The MHRA is currently finalising the consultation documents for the month of March. Additionally, an Impact Assessment is being carried out for the scheme, with input from my Department.

Nine apprenticeships at post A-level education commenced on 7 February 2012. These apprenticeships form the first tranche of a programme led by Cogent to provide an alternative pathway for entry into industry at the technician level. Our ambition is to deliver 420 apprenticeships over the next five years.

A Technical Apprenticeship Service (TAS) which acts as a one stop shop for life sciences employers to access the apprenticeship programme has been up and running since January 2012.

To increase the uptake of industry placements in the UK an initial proposal for an industrial placement strategy has been drawn up.

Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent progress his Department has made in implementing the recommendations of the Innovation, Health and Wealth report. [96764]

Mr Simon Burns: On behalf of the NHS chief executive, Sir Ian Carruthers OBE, is leading the implementation of “Innovation Health and Wealth: accelerating adoption and diffusion in the NHS”, which was published on 5 December 2011. We have established cross-sector ‘Task and Finish’ groups to lead the implementation of each recommendation and progress is on track.