Brooksby on life sciences in the UK

Last week government announced that it is investing £29 million in the life sciences sector including £10m for technology development. Nigel Brooksby, chair of the Cogent Life Sciences Skills Strategy Board and former chairman and managing director of Sanofi-aventis UK, Europe’s largest pharmaceutical company, responds to the news:

Cogent, Nigel Brooksby
Nigel Brooksby, Cogent

This important funding announcement reflects the life sciences sector’s vital contribution to the future prosperity of the country.  Indeed David Cameron has called life sciences the “jewel in our economic crown” – at a time when growth is the most pressing issue facing the UK economy.

These awards, which will see nearly £10m into 14 universities and 18 small and medium-sized enterprises, will support both the UK academic community and smaller organisations to understand and expedite the commercial potential of their preliminary ideas.

Being able to test market opportunity is a vital step in the road to commercialisation. But while this funding is important and very welcome, there are also other important ingredients which contribute to the sector’s success.

Cogent is playing an underpinning role in supporting the life sciences sector. Its skills action plan is aimed at ensuring the burgeoning SME community secures the all important skills it needs to flourish.

Supporting academia is also critical. The sector needs to attract the best graduates and post-graduates. We need to create a climate for them to flourish by giving them the support to develop their skills in an industry environment. Skills development will support the sector’s ability innovate and it will boost collaboration. This is key – and is an area which is becoming a pressing issue for industry and the NHS.

Cogent is currently developing a detailed proposal, to secure UK Commission for Employment and Skills  funding. The proposal is titled Developing tomorrow’s scientists todayharnessing scientific excellence and knowledge exchange through placements and mentoring and, if successful, this will deliver 50 trained SME mentors, covering finance, business & science , as well as 100 additional industry work experience placements also targeted particularly at SMEs.

For more on Cogent’s Skills plan click here.