Life science businesses react to chancellor's first Budget

12 March 2020

Measures announced include a £5 billion emergency response fund following the Coronavirus outbreak as well as measures to support research and development.

Karl Barnfather, chairman of European intellectual property firm, Withers & Rogers, said: “This Budget provided further fiscal encouragement for organisations involved in world-class R&D activities and will support further investment in the sector. This is good news for innovators of all shapes and sizes – from established corporate R&D teams to start-ups seeking seed investment.

“Allocating £800 million of taxpayers’ money to the formation of a new Blue Skies Funding Agency, modelled on the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) in the US, is ingenious and will encourage grassroots innovators to step up their activities and support them in everything from early stage sandbox testing to scaling up their businesses. A further £400 million for ‘high-quality research’, much of it linked to university research departments across the UK, will also sponsor innovation at a grassroots level.”

ABPI's chief executive, Dr Richard Torbett, welcomed a commitment to science and research.

He said: “Increasing science investment and raising R&D tax credits are important steps to reaching the goal of 2.4% of GDP spent on research, and will be critical to the future success of our industry.

“We look forward to working with Government on a shared ambition to attract global investment to the UK’s thriving life sciences sector.”

The Chancellor made a series of announcements on research and development which are important to the life sciences sector. It was announced that R&D tax credits would be increased from 12% to 13%, while central government investment in R&D would increase to £22 billion a year. There was also an additional £200 million for the sector, although it was not specified what it would be used for.

Simon Hansford, CEO, UKCloud ,said he was pleased to see support for public services, including the measures to help tackle the coronavirus but called for collaboration with technology firms.

He said: "The £5 billion emergency response fund to support the NHS and other public services is much needed given the rise of Coronavirus – the chancellor also added ‘whatever it needs, whatever it costs,’ referring to the NHS. This is in addition to an extra £6 billion on the NHS, paying for more nurses, more GP surgery appointments and new hospitals. Beyond this cash injection, public services must also collaborate with technology firms to combat the financial strain and demand of an ageing population and threatening virus – the money will only go so far.”

Content source: Ian Bollard, Rapid News Group