Home » Future of Healthcare » A time and place to be bold: why Wales is the place of choice for life science innovation

Cari-Anne Quinn

CEO, Life Sciences Hub Wales

The life sciences industry played a significant role in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic by reacting quickly, collaborating and innovating in diagnostics, treatments and vaccines.

The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated a shift towards increased use of technology through apps, wearables, remote consultations and more — opening up the floodgates for innovative uses of both technology and health data.

Now, healthcare systems worldwide — including the NHS — are facing their most challenging time in memory, with struggling services, workforce shortages, rising demand and increased inequalities. 

As we face these challenges, collaboration between healthcare and industry continues to offer opportunities for solutions. More than ever, we must nurture the collaborative efforts of the life sciences sector. The UK, and Wales in particular, have reason to be bold about our ability to do so.

The UK’s strength: invested in innovation

As a whole, the UK is invested in life sciences innovation. Our tax environment, funding support systems and investment priorities all place the UK as one of the most attractive places in the world to build a business in life sciences. 

This is reflected in the Government’s ambitious commitment to life sciences, as laid out in the Life Sciences Vision for the UK, which has a significant focus on innovation, including funding and access to finance for startups. In fact, in last year’s budget, £39.8 billion was allocated to funding research and development across all sectors in the UK between 2022–2025.

Pharmaceutical products are in the top five
products being exported from Wales,
with a yearly value of £1.1 billion.

Wales’ unique position of strength

As a nation of the UK, Wales benefits from this competitive environment while, at the same time, being different and unique from the rest of the UK.

The latest statistics released from the Office for Life Sciences (OLS) showed that the income growth of Welsh life sciences businesses is outperforming that of life sciences businesses in the rest of the UK. They demonstrated that the number of people employed in life sciences is also growing and keeping pace with the rest of the UK. 

Meanwhile, the latest export figures for Wales, released late last year, reveal the growing global influence of Welsh life sciences. They showed that pharmaceutical products are in the top five products being exported from Wales, with a yearly value of £1.1 billion — up a whopping 30% compared to the previous period.

In Wales, we have several ingredients that feed into our position as this compact powerhouse for life sciences. NHS Wales is key to those ingredients for success. We have one, single, interconnected health system that is far easier to navigate than many other regions can offer. This makes Wales incredibly attractive to healthcare innovators. They can access a patient population of over three million people, via one health system with seven closely connected health boards.

A hub for catalysing innovation

In the last few years, Welsh Government has stepped up even more to encourage and foster new life sciences businesses setting up in Wales, and the recently released Innovation Strategy for Wales reinforces this further.

Wales offers a highly supportive ecosystem to thrive in, but we also know that successful partnerships and collaborations don’t emerge from thin air. Innovative companies can still struggle to find appropriate partners, and health and social care providers often don’t have the time, skills or resources to search for the latest solutions to their challenges.

This is at the heart of our mission at Life Sciences Hub Wales. We believe multidisciplinary collaboration is key to innovation, the nation meeting the healthcare needs of the future and life sciences businesses being able to achieve their potential. We support this by acting as a dynamic interface, helping vital life sciences reach the health and social care frontline fast and effectively.

We’re proud to be at the centre of such a vibrant ecosystem and play our part in helping it flourish. So, if you are part of an innovative life sciences business — small or large — and need support, we’d love to hear from you.

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