Region/Countries: Europe, United Kingdom Industry: Biosciences / Medical Devices Date: June 2019

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: More than 1,200 biotech companies are located in the UK, and these companies are currently developing 900 biopharmaceutical products.

The UK bioscience industry comprises more than 2,000 companies, mainly small and midsize enterprises, employing over 120,000 with annual turnover in excess of £48 billion. The UK has the strongest research and development pipeline in Europe, with 479 products in pre-clinical development and clinical trials. (France places second, with 265 products.)

Biotechnology and biology involving living systems and organisms for the production of antibiotics, hormones etc. is one of the most promising sectors of the British drug industry. In the first eight months of 2018, the industry received nearly £1.6 billion in investment, compared with £1.2 billion in all of 2017. More than 1,200 biotech companies are located in the UK, and these companies are currently developing 900 biopharmaceutical products. The UK has the second-largest gene therapy cluster in the world, after the U.S. London, Oxford and Cambridge have strengthened their position as the UK’s “Golden Triangle” of biotech, and now account for over one-third (34%) of UK biotech companies.

While historically the UK has been slow to adopt new technologies, it is now considered an important proving ground for new assets because the reputation and openness of organizations like the National Institute for Health & Care Excellence and the National Health Service (NHS), which are open to active dialogue and collaboration. This includes the “managed access agreement” for highly specialized technology programs, which includes risk-sharing agreements comprising commercial arrangements with NHS England that allow companies to collect real-world evidence about a drug while it is available for a trial period of a three to five years.

Industrial biotechnology is the use of biological resources for producing and processing materials, chemicals and energy. It is an enabling technology that will underpin the new manufacturing processes that are essential for delivering the clean growth element of the UK’s Industrial Strategy (2017) and the National Industrial Biotechnology Strategy to 2030, which aims to ensure that the UK becomes a leader in the global shift to clean growth by fostering the development of small and midsize biotechnology businesses and products.

The international industrial biotechnology market is currently worth an estimated $34 billion and is forecast to reach $450 billion by 2025. Presently, most of the UK’s industrial biotechnology expenditures are in the field of health care, where the UK is the European leader in the development of biopharmaceuticals. Industrial biotechnology is already embedded in food manufacturing through the use of enzymes and fermentation. Selective breeding and enhancement of plants is currently being used to increase resistance to disease and drought and to improve yields of high-value chemicals in diverse markets, such as nutrition, pharmaceutical ingredients, personal care and manufacturing. Furthermore, the UK is a leader in the use of industrial biotechnology for production of flavors and fragrances, non-caloric sweeteners and functional food ingredients such as prebiotics and soluble fiber.