• Kevin Murphy

Britain: The Life Sciences Sector

Negotiations on Britains exit from the European Union have now started and one factor that will be discussed is the collaboration the EU and the UK on research and development funding. The European Research Council provides the U.K. the highest amount of funding than any other E.U. country, 50% more than what Germany gets, which benefits U.K. universities funding for project-based research from these EU contributions. Global Counsel (GC) of London has reported, ‘Ten of the top twenty universities in the FP7 program are in the UK, including the top three.’

South East Market

One of the biggest market sector recipients for EU grants in research and development in Britain has been in health sciences and pharmaceuticals. The South East office sector has benefited with the strong employment and industry mergers.

Office demand by pharmaceuticals in the M25 corridor has been one of the strongest for the entire market. Nearly 8% of office space for the manufacturing and industry sector is by the pharmaceutical industry which has leased from 2011 to 2016 1.46 million sq ft of production space in a review by Savills.

The report finds industry businesses preferred the out of town locations that provide a campus business park environment. Over the past five years 68% of the space in business parks has become occupied by health and pharmacy firms. In particular 78% of business deals for space were by international pharmaceutical companies for business park settings. The Savills survey shows that 58% of those firms in the health and pharmacy sector preferred to be located out of town and in the South East.

Recorded 2016 transactions include Bayer leasing 80,000 sq ft of space at Green Park in Reading and Smith & Nephew leasing 60,000 sq ft at Croxley Green Business Park in Watford.

Leading the trend for pharmaceutical companies locating to the South East have been from the US which occupies 685,563 sq ft or 41% of market share in office space. Industry leaders Gilead Sciences, Abbott Laboratories and Covance have also located the area.

American health industry giant Becton Dickinson acquired 44,557 sq ft of space at Winnersh Triangle in Reading after consolidating two offices in Basingstoke and Oxford.

Its expected that employment growth by 2025 in the South East will be 12% or 55,000 new staff for the professional, scientific and tech sectors according to analysis by Oxford Economics.

The report predicts that for the South East: “The life sciences sector continues

to thrive in the region and with strong levels of take-up and high levels of investment into the sector we forecast strong levels of occupational demand to continue."

Thames Valley

Since 2000 the Thames Valley has attracted the pharmaceutical sector and now have 30% of the office sector space for the region, the highest proportion recorded. Thames Valley Berkshire reports the growth within the past five years can be attributed to the locally skilled labour force who account for 7,700 life science employees and the 2,200 life science companies in the region.

Expecting to add future space of 800,000 sq ft is at Thames Valley Science Park in Reading where already a thriving number of firms are operating.

The report concludes by forecasting that:‘ The fundamentals of demand for pharmaceutical services remain strong, the ever changing demographics of the UK to an ageing population will continue to drive strong demand for drug development and life sciences products, Oxford Economics are forecasting that by 2026 there will be 14 million people living in the UK who are over the age of 65.’

As for future funding for research and development for Britains businesses and universities there is to become an associate country as is Switzerland or a third country for Horizon 2020.

The UK's decision to leave the European Union has resulted in uncertainty surrounding future R&D funding. There is an opportunity for the UK to carry on receiving EU funding for R&D in a similar way to Switzerland by becoming an associated country or a third country to Horizon 2020.

The mission of the program:

‘Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract. It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market.’

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