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Policy and Public Affairs Update: 4th - 8th September

BSI weekly Policy and Public Affairs update 

September 4th - September 8th 


On Monday, Parliament resumed after Summer Recess and will break again next Friday for Political Party Conference Recess. Following Conference Recess, official business in both houses will resume on Monday, October 9th.


Life Science Industrial Strategy published

As you’ll now be aware, this week the Life Science Industrial Strategy was published. The report was authored by immunologist Professor Sir John Bell and guided by the Life Science Industrial Strategy Board.

The strategy sets out an ambitious vision for the Life Science, making a series of recommendations for how the UK might exploit the Life Sciences to boost economic growth and deliver benefit to patients. It does this through 5 key themes:

  • Science – Continued support for the science base, maintaining strength and international competitiveness.
  • Growth: An environment that encourages companies to start and grow, building on strengths across the UK, including expansion of manufacturing in the sector.
  • NHS: NHS and industry collaboration, facilitating better care for patients through better adoption of innovative treatments and technologies.
  • Data: Making the best use of data and digital tools to support research and better patient care.
  • Skills: Ensuring that the sector has access to a pool of talented people to support its aims through a strong skills strategy.

Most notable is the recommendation for a coalition of funders to form a Health Advanced Research Programme (Harp), which will invest in high-risk projects with the goal of creating entirely new industries in the next decade. The programme emphasises putting the future needs of the NHS and health of patients central to the projects. Genomics, early diagnosis for chronic diseases, healthy ageing and artificial intelligence are examples of the programmes listed in the strategy. It is not yet known how Harp will be formed, for example, who the funders or advisors may be.

In line with BSI recommendations from our report, ‘Immunology and the UK’s life science industry’, the strategy also recommends increasing R&D spend to be in line with other OECD competitors and to ensure the UK develops a migration system that allows recruitment and retention of highly skilled workers from the EU and internationally.


Life Science funding announcements

Coinciding with the publication of the Life Science Industrial Strategy, the Government announced allocation of £160 million for the Life Science sector.

This funding will support the development of a new national vaccine centre (£66 million) to protect the UK from epidemics. The centre will include facilitates to accommodate basic discovery research, as well as, large-scale manufacturing.

Also announced was £30 million for 3 gene therapy centres based at NHS hospitals, £25 million for manufacturing hubs, £25 million for research support for start-ups and £14 million to establish 11 medical technology centres.


Brexit position paper on science and innovation outlines plans for upcoming negotiations

The Government has published a Brexit position paper outlining plans for continued collaboration in science and innovation post-Brexit. This comes in a series of position papers published as negotiations continue in Brussels.

The predominant theme of the paper is the need for continued collaboration with European colleagues on major science, research and technology initiatives.

Main objectives outlined:

  1. Build on the close relationship between the UK and the EU to maintain and strengthen science research. This would involve ensuring continued participation in EU funded programmes, Horizon 2020 and other programmes.
  2. The UK will continue to work closely with EU partners through non-EU international programmes, such as the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI).
  3. The UK will continue to welcome the ‘best and the brightest’ from across the globe and, as such, the UK will seek to agree a migration system of mutual recognition of professional qualifications. The government has allocated £100 million to the Rutherford Fund to attract highly skilled researchers.
  4. Ensure patients in both the UK and the EU still receive the best and most innovative therapies and medical technologies. This will require the UK to continue to work closely with the European Medicines Agency EMA and other international regulatory partners.
  5. The UK will continue to work closely and be a key player in European Reference Networks (ERNs), which support clinical care and research of rare diseases through knowledge and data sharing.


Brexit immigration paper leaked

A Home Office document leaked to the public this week outlined the Government’s plans for a new immigration system post-Brexit.

The document echoes a lot of what has already been stated in Government documents such as ‘Safeguarding the position of EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in the EU’ published in June.

The Home Office plans to introduce a new immigration system through 3 phases. This means that in the next two years, there should be relatively few changes to the current system, apart from EU nationals who want to remain in the UK will have to register their passport with the home office.

The final phase (Phase 3 – after the 2 year ‘implementation period’) will involve the UK setting new immigration rules, such as the introduction of residence permits to EU citizens wishing to work in the UK and stricter requirements for incoming family members.


Brexit negotiations to date

The third round of Brexit negotiations came to a close at the end of August in Brussels.

Talks in this past round focused on citizens’ rights, financial matters, Northern Ireland and Ireland and on issues relating to general separation.

So far, there have been no major announcements coming out of the negotiations but both sides have commented on the clarification of several points and detailed discussions across multiple areas. The UK’s approach has been informed by a series of published position papers, such as the one on science and innovation published this week.


BSI Transplant Immunology Policy Briefing published

We have just published a new Policy Briefing on Transplant Immunology. Thank to those who fed into the briefing. 

The briefing focuses on our current understanding of the immunology of transplant rejection, highlights current available transplant therapies, obstacles that research is working to overcome and considers the future of transplantation immunology.