Guest blog: State of the UK cell and gene therapy industry in 2021

Despite the pandemic the cell and gene therapy industry in the UK has had another year of significant growth. The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult has assessed the UK landscape in terms of investment, jobs and manufacturing capabilities and space. The organisation has published two 2021 reports, one focused on skills demand and one on GMP manufacturing.

The 2019 UK Cell and Gene Therapy Skills Demand Survey Report predicted more than 3,400 new jobs would be needed in the industry by 2024, doubling the existing workforce. However, the 2021 report shows that current employment has already surpassed these predictions and industry is forecasting significantly higher growth.

The forecast skills demand for 2026 is 10,000 bioprocessing jobs, a growth of 117% from today. There is an urgent need to prioritise skills provision to continue the substantial growth of UK companies and for the UK to be a global leader in advanced medicine manufacturing.

In terms of manufacturing, the trend of year-on-year growth within cell and gene therapy sector has continued throughout 2021.The total amount of manufacturing space has increased by 25% since 2020, primarily in multi-functional facilities. Whilst there remains a significant cluster of ATMP manufacturing activity in the South East (including around Stevenage and London), the greatest growth during 2021 has been in Scotland and Northern England. Activities in central London have more of a focus on NHS and academic centres whereas more commercial organisations are based throughout Southern England, Northern England, and Scotland. Most of the QC testing footprint (74%) remains in Scotland.

Matthew Durdy, CEO of CGT Catapult, said: “The past year has highlighted the CGT Catapult’s growing, positive impact across the UK cell and gene therapy sector, which has gone from strength to strength despite the COVID-19 pandemic. With the continued support from Government channelled through Innovate UK, the UK remains the place for ATMP development and manufacture, as evidenced by continued international investment and partnerships with the CGT Catapult and our collaborators.”

The CGT catapult has collaborated with 25 universities and research institutes, 88 companies (44% of which are UK SMEs), as well as upskilling 3,800 people through its programmes to strengthen the skilled workforce in the UK.

The UK has now nurtured the largest cluster of cell and gene therapy companies outside of the US and the third largest globally. CGT Catapult’s unique operational and collaborative model has leveraged 11x the initial investment from Innovate UK in its Manufacturing Innovation Centre at Stevenage, resulting in £850m investment into its collaborators and the facility. 29% of European ATMP companies now operate in the UK and 12% of global ATMP clinical trials are represented in the UK, testament to the strong offering and ATMP ecosystem in the UK.

More within