Northern life sciences supercluster would bring £16.52bn a year to the UK’s economy

NHSA and NP11 publish 'A Northern Life Sciences Supercluster' report

24th September 2021

A LIFE Sciences supercluster across the North of England could bring in £16.52bn a year to the UK’s economy, double the number of jobs in the sector to 118,700 by 2040 and make the country more resilient to future pandemics according to a report released today.

The leading LEPs, research intensive universities, NHS hospital trusts and AHSNs across the North have committed to working together in the report, “A Northern Life Sciences Supercluster” which maps out the region’s areas excellence in the sector and identifies prime opportunities for growth.

It reveals that developing the existing excellence in the North into a second UK supercluster would strengthen the whole of the UK’s offer in life sciences, while simultaneously levelling up the North’s excellence in the sector and tackling health inequalities, which cost the UK £13.2bn a year in lost productivity.

The report predicts through supporting areas of opportunity the northern health and life sciences supercluster:

  • Jobs in the sector would increase from 54,100 in 2020 to 118,700 in 2040.
  • Productivity measured in GVA would grow from £5.17bn in 2020 to £16.52bn in 2040.

Dr Séamus O’Neill, CEO of the Northern Health Science Alliance, said: “Our new report shows how transformative a northern life sciences supercluster would be for the country through an opportunity to genuinely level up the North of England in its areas of excellence.

“To make this happen the region needs the right public sector investment and the time and authority to build the cluster. As an alliance of universities, NHS trusts and Academic Health Science Networks, we are delighted to launch this opportunity with the region’s LEPs.

“To truly level up we need Government commitment to the principle that if it can be done in the North, then it should be done in the North.”

James Muir, Innovation Lead for the NP11 and Chair of Sheffield City Region LEP, said: “Driving growth through innovation is central to the UK’s long-term recovery and prosperity. Health and life sciences are recognised internationally as a UK strength, but we can go so much further. Our globally respected NHS, universities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, Catapults and strong industry leadership working together to support the growth of innovative clusters across the UK will be essential in realising the country’s full potential in life sciences. The scale of opportunity is clear in this report; the NP11 worked in partnership with NHSA and others across the North to produce it, and this collaborative approach is exactly what is needed to achieve the benefits of the North’s life sciences supercluster.

“Responding to the opportunities identified here requires linking our regional research excellence to our strong, established industrial base and a commitment to provide long-term, strategic support towards this goal at national, regional and local levels. This report highlights how far we have moved in the North towards system working and partnership. These ambitions are achievable; but require a new way of working and an investment-driven outlook.”

Built on the strengths of the North’s £13.6bn life sciences economy, home to 21% of the UK’s total life sciences workforce, the supercluster will strengthen the region’s Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and Combined Authorities (CAs), research intensive universities, Catapults, NHS Trusts, Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs), Academic Health Science Centres (AHSCs), Biomedical Research Centres, Science Parks and other stakeholders, enhancing the UK’s global industry offer.

The supercluster would focus on investment in four globally important areas of opportunity where the North’s research excellence and innovation capacity is matched by opportunity in the market in: advanced therapies, infectious diseases, diagnostics and medtech, data and artificial intelligence, and two challenge driven areas of opportunity in healthy ageing and mental health and wellbeing.

The report found advanced therapy employment in the region has the potential to grow 650% by 2032, compared to a projected growth of 490% for the UK as a whole.

Through the supercluster by 2032 it is anticipated the North will have increased its infection R&D investment by £2bn over 10 years, increasing related annual GVA to £3bn by 2032. Putting in place investment within existing clusters of strength would result in the northern medtech sector being worth £7.8bn in 2032. And the value of NHS data alone was estimated at ~£5bn per annum, delivering ~£4.6bn of annual benefit to patients in NHS operational savings, enhanced outcomes and wider economic benefits.

It shows the life sciences sector can make an exceptional contribution to increasing productivity in the region, with growth based on:

  • Increased levels of public and private sector investment in research and development (R&D) and innovation leveraging world class pan-northern assets, partnerships and collaboration;
  • A business ecosystem which supports new company formation and company growth, as well as anchoring existing business in the UK;
  • An incentive system which encourages company investment in life sciences innovation and new development; and
  • A skills system which meets the needs of the whole life sciences sector. This would increase productivity through meeting entry-level to higher-level skill needs of all parts of the life sciences sector.

Companies already working in the North would be anchored there and drive innovation-led growth. The creation of a northern supercluster in life sciences would directly benefit patients in the region, build UK resilience through development of assets and excellence in the North and play a role in reducing health inequalities.

Read the full ‘A Northern Life Sciences Supercluster’ report by clicking here

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