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This British industry is in rude health – let’s hope the NHS doesn’t crush it


And yet, what it really shows is that there are still lots of conditions that can be treated with novel and effective medicines. Obesity is just one example. There are potentially many others.

The UK has a fantastic base in life sciences. We have to make sure we hold on to that lead. For starters, we should be offering far more generous tax reliefs for research and development, the lifeblood of the life sciences industry. Sure, we have the new “full expensing” regime that allows companies to offset the cost of investment against their corporation tax bill, and that will help.

Even so, we are not seeing the same number of smaller biotech companies bubbling up through the stock market as we did a decade or two ago. That needs to change, because it is those kinds of hyper-growth companies that will turbo-change the industry. We need extra tax reliefs for start-ups.

We also need to expand the few world-class science parks we have, and to secure their links with the world’s best universities. Cambridge has emerged as a hub for life sciences, but it is ridiculous that the city has not been able to expand to provide the kind of housing and lab space that it needs to fulfill its potential (finally building a new rail link with Oxford would help, as well).

The same is true of many other cities where the links between universities and start-up life sciences companies could be a lot stronger.



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