UK Science Minister Lord Sainsbury this week announced a new initiative to develop 'a strategic approach' to the future of the bioscience industry in the UK and to encourage growth in the sector.
The Department of Trade and Industry, together with the Departmentof Health and the BioIndustry Association, are currently putting together a work programme for the newly established steering group, Bioscience Innovation and Growth Team (BIGT).
"The successful application of bioscience is vital for the futurecompetitiveness of the UK. If the UK is to maintain and develop itsposition as a global leader in the biosciences - second only to theUSA - we must identify and remove any barriers to competitive growth," said Lord Sainsbury.
"It will be the task of the Bioscience Innovation and Growth Team toidentify any barriers that could significantly hold back the growthof the bioscience industry in the UK and make recommendations to howthese obstacles can be overcome."
The steering group, under the chairmanship of Sir David Cooksey, hasagreed plans for a number of areas for the Innovation and Growth Teamto look at in depth. Working groups have been formed to examine fourkey areas and are due to hold workshops in April.
Lord Sainsbury explained that the biomanufacturing group aims to ensure the competitiveness of the UK as a location for bio-manufacturing, the European markets group is investigating ways to consolidate the UK's position in Europe and to make the EU a strong base for global bioscience companies.
In addition, the finance and investment group will examine all stages of thedevelopment of bioscience companies to identify any significantmarket failures or funding gaps that are likely to adversely affectthe access of bioscience companies to investment.
Finally, the NHS/industry partnerships working group is currently looking at how todevelop partnerships between industry and the National Health Service.
"The Innovation and Growth Team will provide a real opportunity forall concerned with the development of bioscience in the UK toinfluence the future shape of Government policy," commented Lord Sainsbury.
New BIGT chairman Sir David Cooksey added: "I believe the success of the bioscience industry is of great importance for the future prosperity of this country and the health of the nation."
The government has earmarked July 2003 for completion of the work with a full report to the Department of Trade Industry and Department of Health expected in the autumn.