Breathing life into the north

If you subscribe to any of BQ’s northern editions, you’ll have read countless success stories over the past few years from the burgeoning life sciences sector – which according to the latest government research – is now contributing £10.8bn to the UK economy each year...

From the £38m National Biologics Manufacturing Centre within the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) in the North East to Alderley Park in Cheshire, over 1,000 life sciences businesses in the north are now supporting over 38,000 high skilled jobs.

The CPI in particular is a prime example of why the sector is booming. When it was launched in 2011, over 30 potential locations across the UK had been considered as part of the government’s ‘Strategy for UK Life Sciences’ – but the north was given the nod.

The centre for innovation – which has bases in Darlington, Redcar and Sedgfield - de-risks innovation by allowing products to be proven before they go to market – an essential step, particularly for small companies, who have flocked to the region to make the most of its support.

This continued investment has led to the north boasting one of the Europe’s strongest clusters in biological, medical and surgical manufacturing with Eli Lilly, Allergan, Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, Seqirus, JRI Orthopaedics, and DePuy Synthes all based here, according to George Freeman MP, minister for life sciences.

Freeman was speaking at the BioTrinity Conference in London and was praising the latest statistics to be released from the 2015 Strength and Opportunity Report. The data forms part of a new Northern Powerhouse life sciences brochure created to drive further inward investment into the thriving sector.

Speaking at the event, he said: “This data shows that the UK’s £56bn life sciences industry is a powerhouse in the northern economy. Through our life sciences strategy we are creating jobs, opportunities and security across the north.

“With its world-leading universities, innovative life sciences companies and millions of NHS patients across the region, the north has unique capabilities with excellent growth potential for international investors.”

Data published today (26 April) also showed there are 1,000 life and health science companies in the north, 97% of which are SMEs providing a strong supply chain for new investors to the region. It was also revealed that these companies manufacture and export over £8.1bn of medicinal and pharmaceutical products per year.

The work was commissioned by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and was created in collaboration with the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA).

Speaking on the findings, NHSA chair, and vice-president and dean of The University of Manchester’s Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, Prof Ian Greer, said: “The great universities and NHS organisations of the North have been working collaboratively with each other and industry to establish some of the most advanced facilities populated by world-leading experts in their field.

“Together with a 15 million population there is a massive untapped resource for international investors and industry to work with the Northern Powerhouse for mutual benefit.”