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Industry Insight | 14th July 2021

The UK’s 10 year life sciences vision

Read Time: 3 minutes


At Onyx Health, we’re driven by our knowledge to create success for our clients across the Medtech, life science and pharmaceutical industries.  

One of the things that caught our eye recently was the publication of the Government’s UK Life Sciences Vision for the next ten years. 

The strategy will have big implications for UK life science companies over the next decade, providing innovation-led growth and investment opportunities. We all know that Government documents can be a tough read at times, so we’ve pulled together a brief overview of the strategy and its implications. Get in touch to find out how you can unlock the commercial opportunities in the Government’s life science strategy for your business.  


The Government recently published its new UK Life Sciences Vision, which sets out the key priorities for the sector spanning the next decade. It sets out a “bold vision” to tackle some of the biggest health problems facing the UK for a generation, placing a particular emphasis on cancer and dementia. 

One of the strategy’s key features is to harness the successes of the UK Vaccines Taskforce, using the private sector’s expertise to remove unnecessary bureaucracy to help tackle healthcare challenges. 

It emphasises the role of innovation and investment to drive growth within the life science sector and the need to tackle several priority health areas.   

Seven healthcare missions  

The strategy outlines seven critical healthcare missions that the Government will work in partnership to deliver across the sector over the next ten years. This will include an emphasis on preventing, diagnosing, monitoring and treating the disease early, using innovative clinical trials to develop breakthrough treatments to help save lives.  

 The seven missions are: 

1. Accelerating the pace of studies into novel dementia treatment. 

2. Enabling early diagnosis and treatments, including immune therapies such as cancer vaccines. 

3. Sustaining the UK’s position in vaccine discovery, development and manufacturing. 

4. Treatment and prevention of cardiovascular diseases and their major risk factors, including obesity. 

5. Reducing mortality and morbidity from respiratory disease in the UK and globally. 

6. Addressing the underlying biology of ageing. 

7. Increasing the understanding of mental health conditions, including work to redefine diseases and develop tools to address them. 


The healthcare missions identified by the Government presents particular opportunities for life science companies working in the diagnostic and manufacturing sectors, as well as those with specialist expertise in key disease areas identified in dementia, cancer and cardiovascular disease.  However, it is unclear from the document how some of these objectives will be achieved in practice. A more detailed delivery plan is needed to give the sector greater peace of mind.  

Preconditions of success  

To realise these goals, the Government has identified four preconditions of success that must be met over the next decade.  

  • The NHS as an Innovation Partner – COVID-19 has demonstrated the NHS’s ability to trial, embrace and deliver innovation to patients at unprecedented speed and scale – and this momentum must now be seized and applied across the breadth of innovation and disease areas.  
  • Investment in science and research in Life Sciences – The Government has set an ambition for the UK to be a Science Superpower and for the UK to invest 2.4% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Research and Development (R&D) by 2027.  
  • Using NHS health data to drive research and innovation – Over the next decade, high quality health data will be one of the primary drivers of global Life Sciences research and innovation and improved health outcomes. The NHS has potentially the richest longitudinal health data in the world. 
  • Access to Finance – Innovative UK Life Sciences companies need to access capital to grow and innovate. Private finance needs to be available to support promising companies and ideas to realise their economic potential in the UK. 


The focus on investment and innovation is welcome news for the life science sector, which has experienced a period of uncertainty due to Brexit and the disruption caused to global supply chains during the COVID-19 crisis. Having an appropriate regulatory framework in place will also be important to foster a culture of innovation on a domestic level that avoids unnecessary constraints and ensures market access. 

Investment in Life Sciences 

  • Life Sciences Investment Programme – The Government is providing £200 million worth of investment to unlock the potential of innovative UK life sciences companies to grow and create high-value jobs. The Fund hopes to attract around £600m long-term capital from private investors to ensure the UK remains a world leader in Life Sciences innovation. 
  • Medicines and Diagnostics Transformation Fund – This aims to build on the success of the vaccine task force, which invested over £350m to increase vaccine manufacturing capacity in the UK and NHS Test and Trace. The previous investments in this area will be accompanied by the delivery of the £20m Fund, which will provide grants to support UK Life Science manufacturing.  
  • Establish a Life Science Scale-Up Taskforce – This will aim to drive forward the growth and scale-up of life science companies in the UK, develop recommendations on issues that inhibit scale-up and growth.


The only funding guaranteed from the Life Sciences Investment Programme is £200m; whilst there are ambitions to deliver £1bn worth of funding, it remains to be seen whether this is an achievable or realistic goal. Whilst the additional funding via the Medicines and Diagnostics Transformation Fund may be potentially beneficial, £20m is a relatively small amount of capital allocation, which may limit its impact.   

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