Greater Birmingham has potential to become a leading global location for life sciences
An independent Life Sciences Commission initiated earlier this year by the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) publishes its report today.
Minister for Life Sciences, George Freeman said:
“Government is backing the Midlands as an engine for growth and this report sets out an exciting vision of the growing role that the Greater Birmingham cluster is playing in the fast emerging field of 21st Century Life and Health Sciences. Building on the ground-breaking work of the Birmingham hospitals and Institute for Translational Medicine in research medicine, and investing in the skills and technologies transforming medicines discovery, Birmingham has a big part to play as a leading cluster in 21st Century Life and Health Sciences.”
Chaired by Birmingham businessman Graham Silk, who is also co-founder of the Cure Leukaemia charity and Patients4Data, the Commission has highlighted Greater Birmingham’s potential to become a World-leading location for the rapid assessment of new drugs, diagnostics and devices.
The Commission identified that Birmingham is playing a leading role in developing new models for accelerated clinical trials, which are providing patients with blood cancers earlier access to new drugs, at no cost to the NHS. The Commission notes that the new Institute of Translational Medicine being developed at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, which opens this month, will extend these models to other diseases including solid tumours and rare, auto-immune and chronic diseases.
The Commission has also identified a number of areas where local partners, in conjunction with the Government and industry, need to work together to unlock Greater Birmingham’s potential around life sciences. This includes increasing the involvement of academic and health partners in translating medical innovations into new treatments for patients, and to develop new ways of financing this activity. The Commission also recommends investment in patient data systems, education & training, and support for small businesses looking to enter the life sciences and healthcare markets.
Graham Silk said: “Birmingham has a number of important and unique strengths to offer as a location for clinical trials, particularly in light of its leading accelerated early phase trials models.
“In addition, we have fast and easy access to a large and diverse patient population of 5.6 million, effectively the same number of people as in Scotland, but with the diverse profile of the whole world, all within a one hour travel time.
“Combining this with our numerous clinical and academic centres of excellence in a wide range of disease areas and genomics capabilities, we are in an extremely strong position to exploit this opportunity.”
Steve Hollis, deputy chairman of the GBSLEP, said: “This report highlights Greater Birmingham’s potential to play a leading role in delivering the UK’s ‘Strategy for Life Sciences’ and faster patient access to cost-effective and innovative medicines, devices and diagnostics. It also underlines the increasing imperative for the rapid assessment of new therapies which makes Greater Birmingham such an attractive option for life science investors.
“The GBSLEP Board has endorsed the Commission recommendations and believes it is important that local partners adopt them so that we can build on our current success in pioneering life sciences services in the UK. If we are to accelerate the delivery of personalised healthcare for a range of major diseases including cancer and liver disease, we must grasp these opportunities without delay. This will also go a long way to creating more jobs and delivering further growth for our region. The Institute of Translational Medicine and Life Sciences Campus will create in excess of 4,000 jobs and this number could be increased significantly.”
Graham Silk added: “Over the last 10 years, incredible progress has been made in how new medicines and devices are treating patients, with a significant move towards personalised and stratified treatments, and this has been significantly driven by the UK life sciences industry.
“In Greater Birmingham, we are already very strong in the area of accelerated trials with our forward thinking vision in creating the Institute of Translational Medicine. With such an ideally placed and diverse population we can make strides in expanding and stimulating life sciences activity in the region. Ultimately, the creation of a sustainable throughput of new treatments will deliver a massive improvement to patient outcomes, not only for our region but around the globe.”
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