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December 5, 2018

UCB to invest £1bn in the UK Life Sciences Sector Deal

Belgian biopharmaceutical company UCB has agreed to invest approximately £1bn ($1.27bn) as part of a collaboration between the UK government and life sciences industry intended to support healthcare innovation in the country.

Belgian biopharmaceutical company UCB has agreed to invest approximately £1bn ($1.27bn) as part of a collaboration between the UK government and life sciences industry intended to support healthcare innovation in the country.

UCB expects that the move will help in research to address unmet patients’ needs, strengthen its alliances in the UK and boost its footprint in the life sciences industry.

The government and industry’s Life Sciences Sector Deal, the second of its kind, involves £1.3bn in industry investment from ten companies, including UCB, and will focus on developing new technologies to detect and treat diseases early.

It will also help businesses to generate new jobs in line with the government’s Industrial Strategy.

The collaboration will involve leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to develop early disease detection technology and new treatments.

The government expects that identification of deadly diseases even before appearance of symptoms will save many lives.

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Supported by up to £79m from the government, this Accelerating Detection of Disease programme will analyse five million healthy individuals to create new AI-based diagnostic tests.

The study will involve identification of common characteristics to gain better insights into the development of diseases.

In addition, the deal will also work towards next generation treatments such as genomics.

“This is our modern Industrial Strategy in action as we work hand in hand with industry to ensure the UK remains the go-to destination for treatments to benefit health around the world.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Technology and AI 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.

“Our world-leading plan to map 100,000 genomes is just one example of how innovation can deliver life-changing results for patients and we want to build on its success to provide patients with truly personalised care.”

Under the latest alliance, Roche will make £30m investment, including £20m funding to support digital clinical trials for rare cancers. IQVIA and Genomics England will also work on bolstering clinical research in the country.

A total of more than £80m from Autolus, Oxford BioMedica, Cobra Biologics, Roslin CT and Bellicum will be used for manufacturing facilities and back advanced therapies manufacturing.

Commenting on the new deal, Business Secretary Greg Clark noted: “This is our modern Industrial Strategy in action as we work hand in hand with industry to ensure the UK remains the go-to destination for launching new businesses, new discoveries and treatments to benefit health around the world.”

This announcement of a second large collaboration between the government and key leaders in the pharmaceutical industry, as well as UCB’s additional £1bn investment, has been greeted positively by UK-based industry bodies.

“The joint ambition of our industry and the government is to capitalise on the UK’s international leadership in new technologies and making the best use of health data.”

The BioIndusty Association CEO Steve Bates wrote in a statement: “The UK life sciences sector continues to go from strength to strength.

“One year on from the first ever sector deal agreed between government and an industry sector, it is great to see the sustained importance that the UK government places on the UK life sciences sector as an engine for the country’s future growth.”

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry chief executive Mike Thompson commented: “The Sector Deal is an important step towards fully implementing the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy and a commitment from government to help secure the UK’s leading status as an R&D hub as we leave the EU.

“The joint ambition of our industry – like today’s £1 billion investment from UCB – and the government is to capitalise on the UK’s international leadership in new technologies such as genomic medicine, artificial intelligence and making the best use of health data.

“Getting this right means NHS hospitals reaping the benefits of global clinical trials and the financial rewards they bring; doctors able to prescribe the latest treatments and patients getting the best standard of care.”

Additional reporting by Allie Nawrat

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