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UK Government Commits £210M to Grow Life Science Sector

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The UK government announced today the signing of a deal with 25 global organizations that aims to boost life sciences research and investment in the UK. Included in the deal is a government commitment of up to £210 million ($280.9 million) to expand early diagnostics programs, genomics research, and artificial intelligence-driven science.

In September, an industry group released an independent strategic report that urged support for genomics and other life sciences in the UK, highlighting their potential contribution to the country's economy and offering recommendations for the government and National Health Service (NHS) after Brexit.

Building from that report, the UK government and industry representatives have assembled a set of strategic goals to advance science R&D, genomics, and clinical trials. As part of the effort, biopharmaceutical firm MSD — known as Merck in the US — has agreed to establish a state-of-the-art life sciences discovery research facility in London that is expected to support 950 jobs, including 150 new skilled research positions.

Additionally, the UK government's £210 million commitment will support a genomics program, which will be run in partnership with GSK and AstraZeneca, as well as the launch of an artificial intelligence program aimed at developing digital pathology and radiology programs within the NHS. GSK will provide an additional £40 million for the genomics program, and AstraZeneca said it has established a new center for genomics research in Cambridge.

The Medicines Company, meanwhile, has launched two cardiovascular disease-focused clinical trials in the UK, using novel methodologies to help drive the nation's clinical trial capabilities. And Johnson & Johnson will work with the University of Oxford on novel clinical trial methodologies, the government said.

"The UK has a huge amount to offer the life sciences sector, combining globally renowned scientific research bases with our world leading NHS, which allows innovators to test and refine products at scale," UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a statement. "Today proves that life science organizations of all sizes will continue to grow and thrive in the coming years, which means NHS patients will continue to be at the front of the queue for new treatments."