Region/Countries: Europe, United Kingdom Industry: Biosciences / Medical Devices Date: August 2018

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Despite concerns about Brexit's impact on the economy, the growth of this industry indicates it is still a solid area for investment.

The British economy continues to grow steadily. Even with concerns due to Brexit, projections call for growth of at least 1.5 percent, showing that the UK is still an attractive and stable country for foreign trade.

The biopharmaceutical sector in the UK consists of about 2,000 companies that generate revenues of over £48 billion and employ almost 120,000 people. The majority of the businesses are small and midsize enterprises—an estimated 70 percent in the biopharmaceutical sector. The life sciences sector in the UK is steadily growing, with an increase in employment of 2.4 percent and an increase in revenue from 2016 to 2017 of 9.3 percent—meaning an additional £5.9 billion in revenue over 12 months.

The UK government plans to invest approximately £80 billion in biopharmaceutical research and development over the next 10 years. Specific segments targeted to receive support are vaccine development and manufacturing centers, advanced therapy treatment centers and medicine manufacturing. Not only the government but also the public expect this industry to expand, with initial public offerings for UK biotech companies raising nearly twice as much money in 2017 as in 2016—meaning that even with Brexit looming, British markets offer capital for biotech globally, and represent an opportunity for international investments and cooperation.

In 2016, the UK exported approximately £30.7 billion of life sciences products and imported goods worth £35.5 billion in this category. Although 74 percent of the life sciences imports were from within the EU, that could change with Brexit, especially with the U.S. being the UK’s second-largest trading partner in the life sciences sector. Furthermore, the British secretary of state is calling for collaboration between the UK and the U.S. to support research and advance scientific discoveries in key areas such as cancer treatment, health care and devices for early diagnosis of diseases.

Further information on the British life sciences sector, including the biotech, can be found in the annual report about the bioscience and health technologies database published jointly by the Department of Health and Social Care; Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; and Office for Life Sciences.

A good way to make connections in the UK market is through trade fairs. The National Pharmaceutical and BioPharma Expo is being held Nov. 28, 2018, and the Biomedical Science Congress is taking place Sept. 22-25, 2019. These events provide not only an overview of the sector but an opportunity to network with potential business partners.