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A new Life Sciences Council, bringing together ministers, research and industry leaders, has met for the first time this week.

The group will focus on progress in delivering the Industrial Strategy’s Life Sciences Sector Deal, launched in 2017, which looks to support the sector to develop and launch the next generation of medicines, technologies and diagnostics.

The Council will be chaired by Business Secretary Greg Clark and Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt, and attended by a range of research and industry leaders, including Professor Jackie Hunter FRSB, CEO of BenevolentAI and RSB Trustee.

Dr Mark Downs, chief executive of the RSB, welcomed the formation of the Council following recommendations but stressed the need for more inclusion of other life sciences sectors on the Council: “The health focussed sector in life sciences is a huge area of UK scientific and industrial strength. This newly formed Council should play a key role in maintaining and growing our innovative capabilities.

“However, we must not lose sight of the breadth of talent, capability and economic impact for the UK across the life sciences sector as a whole, including agriculture and plant science, where we need an equal level of focus to fully realise the potential of the life sciences in delivering the Industrial Strategy.”

The formation of the Council follows the recent publication of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report which raised concerns over the Government’s capacity to deliver the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy.

During the preparation of the report Dr Mark Downs FRSB, chief executive of the Royal Society of Biology, gave oral evidence, alongside written evidence submitted by the Society.

One key point related to the potential for missed opportunities if an insufficiently broad definition of life science was used. The Lords report highlighted that Government should identify areas for additional sector deals in addition to health and biomedical areas.

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