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Annual GVA contribution*
Jobs supported each year*
equity financing raised in 2022**
of the world’s top 10 universities for life sciences and medicine***
PwC’s UK Life Sciences Future50 celebrates a selection of companies that illustrate the world-class science and innovation by life sciences businesses in the UK, which are aiming to solve some of the most important challenges in scientific research and human healthcare.
With such excellent foundations, what does the UK need to do to reach its ambition of becoming a global life sciences superpower? How can it translate the early-stage excellence into the investment, development and commercialisation it needs to flourish?
“These 50 companies exemplify how the sector delivers highly-skilled jobs and drives investment into clusters right across the country, from Bristol to Belfast.”
The launchpad for these companies is an exceptional academic system that includes four of the world’s top ten universities for life sciences and medicine (Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College and University College London).
Our research suggests that there is significant potential beyond the Golden Triangle as well. Many other UK cities are delivering significant contributions to life sciences innovation and are diversifying the UK’s life sciences industry beyond the traditional fonts of Oxford, Cambridge and London. Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester are in the top 50 life sciences universities worldwide, and Bristol is not far behind in the global rankings.
Leading academic and research institutions are key to the strength of the UK’s life sciences ecosystem, with 31 out of the Future50 companies spun out of, or created, leveraging research from, a UK university or institution. The majority of these institutions are located within the Golden Triangle, with the list also including the Universities of Dundee, Edinburgh, Manchester, Warwick and Bristol.
In terms of primary headquarters, of the Future50 sample, 18 are based in Cambridge, 15 in London, 11 in Oxford, 3 in Edinburgh and one in each of Belfast, Manchester and Coventry respectively.
Over half of the Future50 companies are within the therapeutics sub-sector.We recognise that some of the companies could fall into multiple sub-sector categories, with the ultimate classification as shown in Figure 1, based on each company’s own view on their positioning.
Figure 1 shows the sector concentration split further by location in terms of current headquarters.
“Our wider ability to nurture and grow the Future50 companies and the many more businesses from across the UK will determine whether we can transform this truly strategic sector for the UK, into the global life sciences superpower that we know it can be.”Stephen Aherne, Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Leader, PwC UK
Financial: Boost late-stage funding
The starting point is boosting domestic investment - this will require greater appetite and experience amongst UK investors, investment banks and market makers. One important step forward is the Government’s agreement with the country’s largest defined contribution pension schemes to allocate at least 5% of assets in their default funds to unlisted equities by 2030 (0.5% today).
Infrastructure: Boosting the capacity for growth
UK life sciences needs more facilities to grow and more flexible infrastructure to meet the needs of the broad range of life sciences sub-sectors. This includes working with investors and planning authorities to develop the necessary laboratory, clinical trial and manufacturing infrastructure.
The Future50 sample is the result of a rigorous research process starting with the identification of 500+ UK-based innovative life sciences companies with the potential to deliver breakthrough solutions, from addressing significant unmet needs to improving access to advanced technologies in research, clinical and healthcare settings.
Ultimately, the Future50 companies were selected based on the following:
Impact potential: the problem the company is trying to solve,
Breakthrough science and innovation: what they are doing to solve it,
Differentiation: how they are doing it,
Maturity: where they are on their journey.
PwC’s UK Life Sciences Future50 includes a selection of companies that illustrate the breadth and depth of world class science and innovation by life sciences businesses in the UK, but is neither exclusive nor exhaustive.
For our part, PwC, with a mission to solve important problems, is committed to trying to help support these game-changing new approaches. We help our clients develop future focused business strategies and to implement the time critical programmes and procedures essential to success within worldwide regulatory frameworks. Our multi-disciplinary teams and global reach mean we are well placed to provide wide-ranging support – wherever you need it, at home and abroad, whatever the size of your organisation, please get in touch to see how we could help.
*PwC Economics estimate
**Gov UK Life Sciences Sector Data 2023
***Top Universities Subject Rankings 2023