The UK is recognised worldwide as a leader in medical research and innovation, and the foundations for collaborations between industry and academia in the UK are exceptionally strong.
The quality of the UK’s scientific research institutions is ranked as the second best in the world, while the UK pharmaceutical industry consistently ranks as the leading sector in the UK for R&D spending.
The evidence for the industry-academia relationship is encouraging, with the pharmaceutical industry and academia collaborating on over 16,000 publications between 2006 and 2015; seven of the top 15 companies for collaborative projects in the UK are found within the pharmaceutical industry.
The publication of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy and Life Science Industrial Strategy highlights the importance of the life sciences, with the aim of building the industry into ‘a global hub that makes the UK the home of clinical research and medical innovation’ supported through collaborations of academia, industry, the NHS and funding bodies, particularly through the announced Health Advanced Research Programme (HARP).
As a highly valuable two-way exchange of information, the benefits of collaboration are strong for all parties involved. Companies can access the forefront of scientific understanding through working with leading academics and are able to set specific objectives to match particular company needs at the time.
Additionally, industry is able to interact with a highly-skilled graduate pool, enhancing the efficiency of medicine development. The value that the industry-academia relationship can bring is well recognised, with some companies employing individual project management staff specifically operating on collaboration projects with individual universities.
For academics, the opportunity of exposure to cutting-edge facilities and resources is a natural attraction to working alongside companies, as well as the inherent networking and funding opportunities that industry provides. At the centre of these collaborations are patients, who benefit from this high-level knowledge exchange through greater access to novel therapeutics, and through direct involvement in certain projects, such as patient biobanks.