Personalised medicines and bionics to drive the future of the uk's £70 billion life sciences sector

  • Wearable technologies, diagnostic devices and bionics are just some of the opportunities for the UK’s £70 billion life sciences sector
  • According to a new report from Santander and manufacturing organisation Make UK, turnover grew by £6.8 billion in 2017, with an additional 298 businesses joining the life sciences industry
  • While wearables and diagnostic devices present a great opportunity for the sector, personal data and privacy must be protected, warns the report

Wearable technology, diagnostic devices, personalised medicines and bionics are four key opportunities for the UK’s £70-billion-revenue life sciences sector, reveals a new report by Santander and manufacturing organisation Make UK, The Manufacturers’ Organisation. The sector’s revenue grew by £6.8 billion in 2017, the latest available information shows, with an additional 298 businesses and sites joining the industry.

The profound growth in wearable consumer technologies and diagnostic devices like smart watches and activity trackers, which monitor and record health metrics, represent perhaps the biggest opportunity, says the report. Alongside personalised precision medicine, these are expected to revolutionise the approach to medicine and prescribed drugs by becoming more tailored to each individual patient. The report further highlights orthopaedics 3D printing and bionics as a key future opportunity, with technological implementation in this area helping to improve the production of protheses, implants, pins and plates. Again, this technology will help enable tailored solutions for patients.

Collecting data via personalised devices does come with concerns about cybersecurity and privacy and, according to the report, the sector will be the need to balance the importance of collecting and using the data of its consumers with the need to protect their privacy and rights. The life sciences sector may be particularly exposed to cybercrime with companies needing to invest in protecting their products from attacks.

Philip Jennings, UK Head of Life Science at Santander Corporate & Commercial Banking said: “The UK possesses globally recognised expertise across the Life Science sector which attracts high levels of investment. New technologies and techniques are being continually developed to meet the increasing global demand for products and treatments. Santander is well placed to assist companies in developing their Life Science businesses and to help grow their overseas sales.”

Francesco Arcangeli, Economist, Make UK, said: “The UK life sciences sector has grown substantially over recent years to become a significant part of UK manufacturing. The focus should be on continuing to increase investment, which the government is planning to do over the next decade, as this will drive R&D and innovation, which is vital for the UK life sciences sector to remain competitive. The sector is in a fantastic position to be able to take advantages of both current and future health trends and we expect to see the sector continue its growth over the next decade.”

Research and Development (R&D) is also key to the future success of the sector and the UK government’s target is to increase R&D investment from current levels of 1.8% of GDP to 2.4% by 2027. The global market for digital health services such as smart devices and phone apps alone may reach £150 billion in 2020, more than doubling its current value. For the UK, new research centres are set to be developed that will invest heavily in R&D and innovation and create thousands of jobs and leverage millions of private sector investment in R&D.

The report found the life sciences sector to be well placed to tackle longer term trends, like an ageing population and the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), driven by machine learning, AI, data analytics and networked communications. An ageing population brings significant opportunities for those working within the sector with the demand for new medicines and devices constantly increasing while a high-tech sector such as UK life sciences can be both a producer and adopter of new and innovative 4IR technology.

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Notes to Editors

About Make UK
Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation, is the representative voice of UK manufacturing, with offices in London, Brussels, every English region and Wales.

Collectively we represent 20,000 companies of all sizes, from start-ups to multinationals, across engineering, manufacturing, technology and the wider industrial sector. We directly represent over 5,000 businesses who are members of Make UK. Everything we do – from providing essential business support and training to championing manufacturing industry in the UK and the EU – is designed to help British manufacturers compete, innovate and grow.

From HR and employment law, health and safety to environmental and productivity improvement, our advice, expertise and influence enables businesses to remain safe, compliant and future-focused.

Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. It has brought real competition to the UK, through its innovative products for retail customers and relationship banking model for UK SMEs. At 31 December 2018, the bank has c23,800 employees. It serves around 15 million active customers, via a nationwide branch network, telephone, mobile and online banking; and 64 regional Corporate Business Centres. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) in the UK. Santander UK plc customers’ eligible deposits are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the UK.

About Us
Banco Santander (SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading retail and commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain. It has a meaningful presence in 10 core markets in Europe and the Americas, and is the largest bank in the euro zone by market capitalization. At the end of 2018, Banco Santander had EUR 981 billion in customer funds (deposits and mutual funds), 144 million customers, 13,000 branches and 200,000 employees. Banco Santander made attributable profit of EUR 7,810 million in 2018, an increase of 18% compared to the previous year.

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