The Treasury Connect conference was hosted in West London and brought together businesses, industry leaders, and other key stakeholders to discuss how to drive growth across the life sciences industry.
The Life Sciences Vision set an ambition to develop a globally competitive life sciences investment ecosystem in the UK; one where private and public companies can access the long-term capital they need within the UK, from investors committed to building successful companies here.
The Chancellor, The Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, opened the event, explaining the motivations for the event being to increase engagement with the Life Sciences industry sector, after which the participants formed splinter groups.
The Access to Finance discussion group was chaired by Philip Duffy, Director General – Enterprise and Growth, HM Treasury, and co-chaired by Sir Jon Symonds, Life Sciences Champion. The debate opened with the question ‘can you have true capitalism if you don’t have any capital?’
The discussions in this group centered around the intelligent deployment of funds that the government hopes to unlock from pension funds, educating investors on risk and how the private sector venture capitalists are making large returns on life sciences so that maybe the time is right for pension funds to be deployed into public market life science companies.
The Chancellor joined the Access to Finance group for the final twenty minutes before all participants reassembled to debrief from the discussions.
There was an overall positive feel with regards to the future of the sector and a perceived keenness by the government, through events such as this, to listen to what the representatives of the sector have to say. The Chancellor emphasised the need for the sector to promote positivity in order to inspire people going forward.
In the Spring Budget, the Chancellor set out a package of measures to demonstrate the government’s ambition in this area. This included extending British Patient Capital until 2033 to support R&D intensive sectors including life sciences; inviting feedback on the design of a new Long-term Investment for Technology and Science (LIFTS) initiative; and pursuing accelerated transfer of the £364 billion of Local Government Pension Scheme assets into pools to support investment in innovative companies.
Of the enhanced R&D tax relief rate for ‘R&D intensive SMEs’ announced in the Spring Budget on 15 March, Suzy said:
"Of the enhanced R&D tax relief rate for ‘R&D intensive SMEs’ announced in the Spring Budget on 15 March, Suzy said: “As a growing life sciences SME, we’re really pleased that the government has announced an enhanced research and development (R&D) tax relief rate for SMEs. The higher tax relief rate will enable us to continue to progress our research. into new therapeutic options for cancer and diseases associated with women’s health and continue to create skilled jobs in the Midlands region. The announcement will help to accelerate innovation within UK life sciences sector, particularly in the Midlands, which has a strong track record for scientific research and development.”
Government figures show there are over 6,548 businesses in the UK life sciences industry, and approximately 70-80% are SMEs. These businesses employ over 282,000 people and generated £94.2 billion of turnover in 2021.
Following the Treasury Connect conference held shortly after the Chancellor's Spring Budget for 2023, read ValiRx CEO, Dr Suzanne Dilly's comments here.