Pharma looks to UK for innovation as global economic uncertainty hits fundraising

As global macroeconomic uncertainty hit fundraising across all sectors, investment in UK biotech fell from the all-time highs seen in 2021, new analysis from the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA) and data and insights company Clarivate shows.

However, global pharma and investors looked to UK innovation to strengthen their product pipelines, with UK biotechs being acquired at a premium and others achieving pivotal milestones in their development.  

Headline statistics from the report include:

  • £1.8 billion was raised by UK biotech in 2022, down from the £4.5 billion raised in 2021
  • Venture capital investment in the sector was the third-best year recorded for the UK, with £1.2 billion raised
  • Despite the funding downturn, new venture capital funds with a mandate to invest in UK biotech were created in 2022, adding another £3.7 billion of capital that could be attracted to the UK sector
  • Mirroring the global economic downturn impacting all sectors, the public markets contributed only £575 million to the UK sector’s annual fundraising total
  • Acquisition of UK innovation by US companies increased, including Pfizer’s acquisition of ReViral for an estimated £420 million, Gilead’s acquisition of MiroBio for an estimated £350 million, and AbbVie's acquisition of DJS Antibodies for £229 million

Leading UK biotechs also achieved pivotal milestones in their development. Verona Pharma reported a successful Phase III trial for Ensifentrine, the first novel compound in over a decade to address the ongoing needs of the more than 380 million patients worldwide suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and Immunocore achieved regulatory approval for KIMMTRAK® (tebentafusp), the first T Cell Receptor (TCR) immunotherapy to be approved to treat solid tumours.

Steve Bates OBE, CEO of the BIA, said:

“UK based life science companies are world-leading in developing life-changing medical innovation. This year’s data shows they are much sought after by global pharmaceutical companies looking to acquire innovative pipelines and platforms, for which they are willing to pay significant premiums.

“We expected a fall in investment following two bumper years, but it should still be considered a warning. There is global capital out there for us to attract, as well as finance in the City of London we need to unlock, but competition is fierce.

“What cannot be overstressed in this pivotal year is the central importance of R&D tax credits in leveraging the private investment that drives the UK life science ecosystem. The halving of R&D tax relief for SMEs without details of what further support will be made available leaves the sword of Damocles hanging over the UK’s start-ups and scale-ups. In a year when global markets are closed to biotech, it is vital that the UK does everything possible to attract investors and support its innovative companies.”

Mike Ward, Global Head of Thought Leadership for Life Sciences & Healthcare at Clarivate, said:

“While the global biotech sector saw a decline in the sums raised from the capital markets, this was more a response to macroeconomic drivers than a reflection of R&D performance or potential.

“Although down on the previous two record-breaking years, 2022 was still the global sector’s third best year for fundraising. With assets originally created within biotech labs now accounting for almost 70% of pharma pipelines, an additional $40 billion raised by life sciences-focused funds, and an asset-hungry pharma industry sitting on cash piles ready to be spent replenishing pipeline and portfolios, the global biotech sector still has the potential to see consequential growth and deliver new transformation medicines to patients.”



Notes to editors:

Dr Martin Turner

Dr Martin Turner

Associate Director, Policy, Public Affairs & Investor Relations


More within