Genomics drives UK life science success, new report finds

Genomics companies outperform their life science peers at attracting both public and private investment according to a new report. New data shows that UK genomics companies raised £1.9 billion of venture investment and £35.7 million in public grants since 2017, demonstrating the strength of this innovative sector.

The UK’s high-growth genomics sector:

  • consists of 121 companies employing over 3,500 highly skilled people
  • has a market cap of over £3.5 billion based on deals since 2017
  • is young and growing, with half at early or seed stage
  • has a higher proportion of spin-outs (34%) compared to other sectors (2.7%)
  • relies on a range of skilled professionals, with 70% saying it was particularly difficult to recruit for computational and data science skills.

The findings are revealed in the second Genomics Nation report, published today (27 July 2022) by the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA), the Wellcome Sanger Institute and Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC). It showcases the strengths and opportunities of this vibrant UK ecosystem of entrepreneurs, spin-outs and scale-ups.

Steve Bates OBE, Chief Executive of the BIA, said:

“Innovative UK Genomics companies are vital to the future wealth of our nation. With the right investment, skilled people and partnership working with the NHS family, UK small and medium-sized enterprises are ideally placed to be key global players in the growing subsectors within genomics such as functional genomics, epigenetics, transcriptomics and pharmacogenomics.  The application and industrialization of this technology is transforming both healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry. Our growing industry needs great people who can use computational and data science skills to deliver our transforming health projects. 

Adrian Ibrahim, Head of Technology Transfer and Business Development at the Wellcome Sanger Institutesaid:

“The UK continues to generate an enviable number of genomics companies, many of these originating from our world-leading academic programmes.  Whilst there remains a strong concentration of outstanding young companies around Cambridge, Oxford and London, the report highlights the development of genomics companies across the UK, seeding opportunities for distributed genomics hubs in multiple regions. 

"Seed and Series A investors are backing our early genomics innovation.  To realise the potential of our maturing sector we will need to actively address the growing demand for exceptional talent in the genomics and biodata fields and ensure the availability of scale-up capital to support our globally competitive genomics industry."

Professor Chris Molloy, CEO of MDC, said:

“As genomics is the foundation of life, it should be the foundation of life sciences R&D. On this firm basis, robust programmes with greater chances of success can be built and build we must.

“The UK leads the world in industrialising genomics research, and its use in healthcare. However, pioneering is not establishing. A high-tech industrial building is needed on this foundation to deliver functional genomics and proteomics, where most medicines matter. 

“Now - behind this leading edge – the UK is starting to secure a post-genomic future for R&D by harnessing its biotech, healthcare, and academic communities. By establishing singular purpose and combining public with private sector assets it has the potential to build a wonder of the modern world on this foundation.”

Baroness Nicola Blackwood, Chair of Genomics England, said:

“We welcome the latest Genomics Nation report from the BIA, MDC and Wellcome Sanger Institute which indicates that the UK’s genomics sector continues to go from strength to strength. Clearly, the UK is leading the way in continuing to develop a rich genomic ecosystem which is growing across academia, healthcare and private companies. Genomics England draws on these talents and innovations to drive forward our programmes and partnerships with the NHS and other stakeholders. We need to work together to develop more talent, close the skills gap, and strengthen our ecosystem. This will help us achieve our goals of improving patient outcomes and making the UK the best place in the world to do genomic research.”

More within