The ABPI notes the creation of a single health research fund for the NHS and MRC, following the successful US National Institute of Health (NIH) model, with interest. But it is essential that this amalgamation does not put at risk the pre-clinical research base – a vital part of the MRC’s remit – that has been the foundation of pharmaceutical industry R&D investment.
We look forward to taking part in consultations over how this fund will deliver joined-up research, and to learning how the Government intends to increase spending above the current organisations’ combined funding of £1.3 billion.
“We warmly welcome the Chancellor’s encouragement of biomedical research in the UK to close the widening gap between investment in this area on opposite sides of the Atlantic,” said Dr Richard Barker, Director General of the ABPI.
“Increased overall Government investment is needed to secure the country’s future competitiveness in bioscience. Industry believes the UK has a unique opportunity to consolidate its world leading position in biomedical research and pharmaceutical development.”
The announcement of a doubling in the size of companies eligible for the maximum R&D tax credit will help medium sized companies, but a simplification of the credit auditing process, to ensure the scheme is fully taken up, is also required.
New targets for science in schools - including planned increases in those taking A-levels in Physics, Chemistry and Maths; extra chemistry and physics training for science teachers; commitment to raising awareness of career opportunities in science and raising the focus of science in schools - are warmly welcomed. All address ABPI concerns that the UK science base in vocationally relevant disciplines is eroding. However we are disappointed that a 14-19 science diploma, to train scientists for practical roles in industry, has not been included.
“We have strongly urged government to redouble efforts in those science areas critical to UK future in biosciences, not only to increase the number of science teachers but also to ensure the practical content and quality of courses meet the requirements of the skills marketplace,” said Dr Barker.
For further information, please contact: ABPI Press office: 020 7747 1410