The Government's plan to encourage a ten-year investment framework in research and development in the UK has been welcomed by the pharmaceutical industry - but at the same time the industry has highlighted some points of concern.
In its response to the Government paper, Science and Innovation: Working towards a ten-year investment framework, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) noted that pharmaceutical companies are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit suitably qualified staff in the UK.
Another key concern remains the activity of animal extremists, and the ABPI response highlights the importance of the introduction of specific legislation to deal with this issue.
"We very much share the Government's vision of a science- and innovation-led economy, but there are several factors that give us concerns that it may not be possible to realise its aspirations," said Dr Philip Wright, Director of Science and Technology at the ABPI.
"The industry is operating on a worldwide scale - even emerging biotech companies often operate on the global stage - and it is up to the Government to sustain and enhance a competitive environment for pharmaceutical R&D."
The ABPI response points out that the Government's intention to create a competitive environment to support science and innovation needs more than funding universities and incentives for investment - although these are welcome.
It also depends on three factors:
In particular, the response notes that ABPI members are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit certain types of graduates and skills within the UK, especially those with good chemistry degrees, as well as in vivo pharmacologists. Industry is playing its part in tackling these concerns in the short to medium term, but Government must find ways of giving students appropriate incentives to take science degree courses.
The expansion of higher education is placing the credibility of degrees under pressure. "The arbitrary nature of the expansion to 50 per cent participation is nonsensical and does not provide the quality skills for the future that industry requires," the report says.
By 2015, the ABPI would welcome the establishment of a technical or vocational sector - the UK is one of the few countries that does not have technical higher education facilities.
For further information, please contact: ABPI Press Office 020 7747 1410