Guest blog | Richard Seabrook | Life sciences South West - going for growth

For the first time Life Sciences has been properly recognised in the South West as an enabler of growth. This could mean more opportunities for employment for graduating students and more potential for research collaborations with partners benefitting from the close proximity. So, what’s next for the strategy to deliver long-term growth for the Life Sciences sector in the South West?

Following a successful collaboration between the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute at the University of Bristol and GW4 to achieve recognition for life and health sciences innovation in Bristol and the West of England for the re launched UK Industrial Strategy Life Science Sector Deal we are now working alongside partners such as Invest Bristol and BathBristol Health Partners and UWE, on the West of England Combined Authority local Industrial Strategy, due to be finalised September 2019.

The process led by WECA commenced in October 2018 and the evidence base we have been contributing to was published in February this year. We are delighted that Life Sciences is now properly recognised locally alongside more established Medtech and Digital Health, Robotics, Finntech, Creative Digital and others.

The next phase of strategy development is centred on two overriding objectives:

  1. to deliver long-term growth that is inclusive and clean and
  2. to accelerate economic growth by strengthening productivity to ensure that the region creates high-quality, well-paid jobs for our residents.

The evidence to date is showing an emerging sector:

  • 1288 jobs were advertised in the Life Sciences sector in the West of England between January 2018 and December 2018
  • The demand for jobs in Bristol was the same as the UK average for Life Sciences jobs
  • The demand for jobs in Bath and Weston-Super-Mare was much lower than the UK average
  • The mean salary of advertised jobs was £33,800
  • 2700 employees across the sector
  • Academic research base employs 1560 people
  • 900 people at the University of Bristol
  • 540 people at the University of Bath
  • 120 people at the University of the West of England 

BriSynBio, a BBSRC/EPSRC funded Synthetic Biology Research Centre at the University of Bristol, is especially noted as an engine of growth having nurtured the translation of research into four companies (ZentraxaCytoseekImophoron, and Alpha Nanopore) with a further two in the pipeline.

An example of the changing landscape in Bristol is the newly launched Max Planck-Bristol Centre for Minimal Biology. Building stripped-down versions of life using protocells, genome delivery systems and synthetic cytoskeletons comprise some of the groundbreaking research due to take place at the new Centre which launched at the University of Bristol Spring 2019. Read more

The Elizabeth Blackwell Institute is building links between our research community and partners in the business sector; providing support to establish and sustain strategic partnerships with business to both advance science and deliver benefits to society.

Life and Health Sciences can make an exciting and meaningful contribution to the objectives of inclusive and clean economic growth for the benefit of the region.