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The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has published “Life Sciences Industrial Strategy: Who’s driving the bus?” which raises concerns about the Government’s capacity to deliver the strategy.

The report follows an inquiry at which Dr Mark Downs FRSB, chief executive of the Royal Society of Biology, presented evidence, along with written evidence submitted to the Committee from the Society and many others.

Evidence provided by the RSB emphasised the importance of recognising the breadth of the life sciences as part of the research and innovation landscape, and the need for the strategy to reflect this.

The report recognised that the term life sciences could also include biotechnology, agriculture, plant science, animal science and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The report also recommends that the Government should identify and publish the areas of life sciences not covered by the current Life Sciences Sector Deal, so that businesses and investors beyond these areas will know the areas in which they are free to propose further sector deals.

The report recommends there should be a single, cross-Government body with complete oversight of the implementation of the strategy, called the Life Sciences Governing Body, echoing Downs’ recommendation during the inquiry for a champion to take the lead in implementing the Strategy.

The report also recommends that the implementation of the Strategy as a whole should be scrutinised by a new Office for Industrial Strategy, which will report directly to Parliament.

The Society called for the UK immigration system to enhance the UK’s ability to attract and retain global talent, with the Committee report recommending senior representation from the Home Office be included in the body responsible for implementing the strategy.

The evidence provided by the RSB also highlighted the need for patient (long term) capital, directed towards bioscience opportunities and requirements, bridging the high risk development phases of innovation. The Committee now plans to launch an inquiry into the investment potential of the UK life sciences landscape, and calls for an increase in patient investment for innovative endeavours.

The Committee report highlights the Society’s recommendation that technical education should be developed and promoted, and also points to Downs’ suggestion that the current Government timeline to increase investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027, may be too long.

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