MSD launches United Kingdom hub as government announces industrial strategy

Posted November 28, 2017

Laura Cohen, chief executive of the British Ceramic Federation, said the lobby group was "disappointed not to see clearer proposals to benefit United Kingdom competitiveness on energy for ceramics and other energy intensives industries".

The plan, subtitled "Building a Britain fit for the future", sets out a "long-term vision for how Britain can build on its economic strengths, address its productivity performance, embrace technological change and boost the earning power of people across the UK".

An Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will set £725m set aside over the next three years.

Sector deals: Partnerships between government, business and government to pursue innovation in life sciences, artificial intelligence, the automotive industry and the construction sectors.

The investment announced by MSD, known as Merck and Co in North America, will support a new world-leading life sciences discovery research facility in the United Kingdom, supporting a total of 950 jobs in high-skilled and high-value research roles. Today's announcement appears to have given them little to cheer about.

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"A new United Kingdom location will enable us to build on our proud legacy of invention and be an important contributor to the vibrant and rapidly growing United Kingdom life sciences community, while providing access for more collaborations within the European life science ecosystem".

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: "The way we earn and live our lives as workers, citizens and consumers is being transformed by new technologies".

PM Theresa May said the Strategy would provide a blueprint for businesses to deliver a "stronger and fairer economy far years to come". It will drive this sector forward and simultaneously attract other investments into the UK. Some sectors will be disappointed not to have been picked in the first round of deals.

Qiagen has struck a partnership with a group of universities, research bodies and NHS Trusts around Manchester to develop DNA research in the City.

"We believe London to be a unique bioscience centre of excellence and a key component of the established golden triangle for academic science of London-Oxford-Cambridge", said Louise Houson, managing director, MSD in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

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"These deals are just the first steps but will be instrumental in securing the future strength of the United Kingdom life sciences industry, helping the United Kingdom economy prosper and allowing NHS patients to get better and faster access to world-class medicines discovered and developed here in Britain".

Under the new plans, government investment in research and development will rise from 1.7% to 2.4% GDP in the next ten years, marking what the white paper calls "the biggest increase in public investment in R&D in our history". This could mean around £80 billion of additional investment in advanced technology in the next decade, helping to transform whole sectors, create new industries, and support innovation across the country.

As well as outlining the benefits for the economy, Clark set out Strategy's long-term vision, focussing on the improvements for productivity and United Kingdom earning power by embracing technological change. Two of the five "foundations" of Clark's strategy are people and places, and of the four "grand challenges" two are our ageing society and clean growth.

It also outlines four "grand challenges" in research, developed after consultation with UK science: to "put the UK at the forefront of the artificial intelligence and data revolution"; "maximise the advantages for UK industry from the global shift to clean growth"; "become a world leader in shaping the future of mobility"; and "harness the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society".

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