Applying genomics is key to a dynamic life science ecosystem in the UK, the Genomics Nation 2023 report shows

This year’s report confirms the UK genomics sector as a global leader. It showcases where the use of genomic technologies is already having an impact on patient and public health and highlights emerging applications and growth opportunities.

Email newsletter

News and blog updates

Sign up

Published today (7 December 2023) by the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA), the Wellcome Sanger Institute and Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC), the Genomics Nation report showcases the role of genomics in the UK life sciences sector and its public health system.

Genomics technologies have evolved from the realm of fundamental biology research to powering a range of applications which are already delivering public benefits. For example, genomic surveillance of viral evolution during the COVID pandemic directly influenced public health response and people living with rare diseases or cancer are receiving diagnoses that can inform their treatment.



In considering the current and future impact of genomics, however, the report looks beyond the direct role played by genomic companies and takes a more holistic view of the wider sector it feeds into. Genomics and biodata are powering a multifaceted ecosystem that includes the NHS, academia, data asset providers, Small and Medium companies (SMEs), biopharma, technology companies and government bodies. For example, genomics and the use of ”omic scale” data are now embedded at most stages of the development of new medicine; it enables the discovery of vaccines targeting cancer; it is also critical to the emergence of a new AI-driven industry and the techbio sector.

The report also highlights that the next frontier for the application of genomic sciences includes a shift from ‘reading’ DNA to ‘writing’ DNA and enabling engineering biology to address urgent environmental challenges, including protecting biodiversity, feeding the world and combating the effect of climate change. Tackling these global challenges will require ambition and collaboration, the report finds, and the UK, with its strong academic base and thriving life science ecosystem, will be well placed to spearhead these efforts.

“The UK is a trailblazer in the application of genomics, a lead built on visionary investment that established a strong science base here and enabled early links with the clinic. The ongoing dynamism of our genomic ecosystem, which creates and funds more genomics companies than anywhere else in Europe, is being powered by academic excellence, a unique health system, rich data resources and a genomic commercial sector that is reaching critical mass.”

Dr Emmanuelle Astoul, Head of Technology Translation at the Wellcome Sanger Institute

The report analyses and categorises the data assets available, and looks at how the proliferation of these, combined with improved AI technologies, is identified as a major shift towards personalised medicine. However, challenges are also identified: the need to harmonise vast datasets, for example, or to effectively ensure patient consent and privacy.

“The UK’s dynamic genomics industry is thriving and stands to benefit both patients and taxpayers as it continues to grow. We possess a vibrant ecosystem of spin-outs, scale-ups, and SMEs that are developing and scaling innovations poised to enhance health and wellbeing, not just in the UK but worldwide. I hope this report helps demonstrate not only their strengths but also the strength of the UK ecosystem in which they are thriving.”

Steve Bates OBE, Chief Executive of the BIA

“The UK’s wealth of genomics data provides a foundation and fertiliser for an increasingly rich and diverse set of companies across data science, diagnostics and an increasing range of advanced drugs.

“Genomics nation 2023 calls out the need for easier access to this data for commercial SMEs, academics, and health researchers. Our SMEs are a key source of how innovation is delivered, in the forms of new products, services and assets which benefit us all. However, to seed and scale up, these young companies need easier commercial access to underlying data.”

Professor Chris Molloy, CEO of Medicines Discovery Catapult

“The Genomics Nation report highlights, once again, the UK’s continued international leadership in genomics and the vibrant ecosystem that enables it to thrive. It also shows how genomics is underpinning major healthcare efforts, and how it is positioned to provide insights in other major fields such as agritech, biodiversity or climate change.”

Dr Julia Wilson, Associate Director of the Wellcome Sanger Institute