International research

International research: Enhancing international collaborations for new medicine discovery and early-stage research  

To address the major health challenges of our time, the global pharmaceutical sector is pioneering cutting-edge science that can help develop new treatments and cures for diseases from cancer to dementia, as well as preventing disease through the latest generation of vaccines. These scientific breakthroughs are achieved through national and international collaborations across sectors and disciplines. International research collaborations are fundamental to the discovery and early development of new medicines and vaccines. 


Research ecosystem

The UK has a strong history of scientific excellence, with a research ecosystem that has supported revolutionary research from the development of the smallpox vaccine and the discovery of penicillin to advances in monoclonal antibody technology and gene therapies.

As research has become increasingly international, we have also seen the UK develop a strong record in collaborative research, with 55% of recent UK research publications the result of an international collaboration – a figure that has doubled over the past two decades.[1]   


The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has also demonstrated the success of international R&D collaborations, with partnerships between academia, industry and charities leading to the rapid repurposing of medicines to treat COVID-19 and the development of several vaccines and novel therapeutics.  

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Global Britain

Looking beyond the pandemic towards recovery and growth, the UK must proceed with open and collaborative research at the heart of its ‘Global Britain’ agenda.

As the biopharmaceutical industry invests more in R&D than any other sector, spending £4.8bn on R&D in 2022 and employing around 125,000 people in over 2,000 businesses in 2023, the UK will see benefits to the wider economy through increased investment, job creation and expertise building, if it prioritises a research strategy that enhances international collaboration for new medicine discovery and early-stage research. 

Last modified: 20 September 2023

Last reviewed: 20 September 2023