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01 June 2020

Why the government should continue to invest in Life Sciences post COVID-19

Why the Government should continue to invest in Life Sciences post COVID-19

None of us will forget how the last ten weeks have changed our lives and our country. Covid-19 has dramatically altered the ways in which we work, socialise, relax, and exercise – and perhaps irreversibly so. Twitter’s decision to move permanently to home working is, for example, I think going to be viewed as a seminal moment for the way many businesses seek to come to market in the future.

The life sciences sector has hardly been immune to these seismic changes in our economy. But I’d suggest that our industry benefits from a modest, but important, competitive advantage: we’re well-practised in managing controlled environments such as the laboratories where we conduct our research; and adhering to strict protocols to avoid cross-contamination is, for us, a daily and natural routine. The reality is that pharmaceutical companies across the UK, big and small, will continue to press on with their R&D programmes this year, putting in place additional measures as necessary to protect their staff. OCT as a drug discovery business is no different. On the contrary, our business fundamentals mean we’re well placed to deliver the economic growth that our country desperately needs as it emerges from lockdown.

If nothing else, the pandemic has ably demonstrated the critical need we all have for strong national research and drug discovery industries. Right now, there are thousands of people across the world, and around the clock, working tirelessly to deliver a Covid-19 vaccine. And in addition to this vitally important work, there are thousands more working to innovate and industrialise treatments for countless other indications and diseases that can have positive and life-changing effects.

Providing more effective treatments is a crucial method of alleviating pressure on front-line public services. And, at OCT, that’s what we strive daily to do.

In the UK, successive governments have recognised the importance of investing in life sciences, and that is very welcome. But as public debt rises, there will undoubtedly be calls from some to cut spending, including money earmarked for academic and corporate research. We believe that this would be precisely the wrong conclusion to draw and, worse, the last thing our nation should do: we have an unrivalled bench of talent and skills across our sector that can propel the UK to become a truly global powerhouse of innovation, discovery and understanding. And that means bringing new treatments to market that have the potential to transform millions of lives for the better.

So many times in our history, from adversity has sprung forth hope, innovation and change. We truly believe that one glimmering hope emerging from the chaos and heartache of Covid-19 can, and should be, the delivery of an invigorated UK biopharma sector, well placed to generate jobs and opportunities for many, and facilitating the transformative change that our times and our nation demand.

What better legacy could there be from this dark and difficult couple of months?

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