Chi Onwurah, the shadow science minister, has asked the government what progress has been made implementing the Life Sciences Strategy. Adam Afriyie asked the same thing back in February so this is a nice chance to see what has happened in the past few months.
The strategy was launched in December 2011 by David Cameron, you can read what was announced here.
What’s new since February?
- The Clinical Practice Research Datalink was launched on March 29th. This was on time according to plans set out for the CPRD in December
- The £180m Biomedical Catalyst programme opened for applications in April to SMEs and academics
- The Clinical Trials Gateway website and mobile applications have been launched
- The Patent Box was anounced in the budget but this won’t start until 2013
- The UK Strategy for Regenerative Medicine was published on 28 March
- Keith Thompson was appointed CEO for the Cell Therapy Catapult on 1 May
- There has been a string of initiatives launched to increase and equip the life sciences sector workforce including apprenticeships and degree accreditations
Chi Onwurah:To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what progress he has made on implementing the Government’s Strategy for Life Sciences published in November 2011; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Willetts [holding answer 14 June 2012]: The Government are committed to early delivery of the Strategy for UK Life Sciences. We have appointed two independent life sciences champions, Sir John Bell and Chris Brinsmead, to oversee and drive implementation forward.
Early achievements on implementing the various commitments in the strategy include:
The launch of the Biomedical Catalyst jointly administered by the Technology Strategy Board and Medical Research Council. This three-year £180 million programme opened for applications in April 2012 to UK businesses (SMEs) and academics looking to develop innovative solutions to health care challenges either individually or in collaboration. It will support the maturation of an idea from concept to commercialisation.
The Clinical Practice Research Datalink was established on 29 March 2012. This provides researchers with access to patient data for clinical trials recruitment and observational studies.
Clinical Trials Gateway website and mobile applications for iphone, ipad and android devices have been launched. The website will provide patients and the public with information about clinical trials in the UK, with the anticipation that this will lead to patients feeling empowered to participate in clinical research.
At Budget 2012 the Government confirmed the launch of the Patent Box from April 2013. This will be phased in over five years from 2013 to give a reduced 10% rate of corporation tax on profits from patents and certain other similar types of Intellectual Property.
The UK Strategy for Regenerative Medicine was published on 28 March 2012. The Regenerative Medicine funding scheme, known as the UK Regenerative Medicine Platform, is open for calls to fund research hubs.
Progress is being made on the establishment of a Cell Therapy Catapult in London by the Technology Strategy Board through the appointment of Keith Thompson as chief executive officer for the Cell Therapy Catapult on 1 May.
The Sector Skills Council, Cogent, has developed an action plan to attract the best talent into the life sciences workforce. Progress includes:
Nine higher level apprenticeships incorporating a Foundation Degree in Applied Bioscience Technology commenced in February 2012. The apprenticeships form a pilot programme and provide an alternative pathway for entry into the industry at technician level. Our ambition is to deliver 420 apprenticeships over the next five years.
The Technical Apprenticeship Service (TAS) which acts as a one-stop shop for life sciences employers to access the apprenticeship programme has been up and running since January 2012.
The Society of Biology launched their undergraduate degree accreditation programme on 20 March 2012 following successful completion of a 2011-12 pilot programme.
The Strategy for UK life Sciences has been developed for the long-term to ensure the UK retains its position as a global leader in this field, and that the industry continues to deliver sustainable year-on-year growth. The impact of the strategy may take 10 to 15 years to be fully realised.