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

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Published today (27th July 2022) by the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA), the Wellcome Sanger Institute and Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC), the Genomics Nation report showcases the strengths and opportunities of the Genomics UK ecosystem of entrepreneurs, spin-outs and scale-ups – a testimony of the strength of the Genomics sector in the UK, both at academic and industrial levels.

“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.”

Dr Adrian Ibrahim, Head of Technology Translation and Business Development at the Wellcome Sanger Institute

The data published in the report show that UK genomics companies have raised £1.9bn of venture investment and £35.7m in public grants since 2017. This high-growth genomics sector consists of 121 companies employing over 3,500 highly skilled people, with a market cap of over £3.5bn based on deals since 2017. Knowledge transfer from academia into industry is another highlight of the report, with the genomics sector developing a higher proportion of spin-outs (34 per cent) compared to other life science areas (2.7 per cent).

Furthermore, the report also shows that talent is key for the sector’s growth, and relies on a range of skilled professionals. When surveyed, 70 per cent of companies stated it was particularly difficult to recruit for computational and data science roles.

“UK genomic companies are thriving as they continue to attract significant investment, with investors realising how this innovative science can tackle global health needs, as was seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. The UK sector’s strength is in part due to strong Government backing through the Life Science Vision and Genome UK. Continuing to support these companies as they scale up is vital in realising the potential of current investments to accelerate the benefit for both patients and the taxpayer going into the future.

“In addition, we must continue to nourish this fertile home of genomics through investing in computational and data science skills, as well as developing talent with a breadth of knowledge and experience.”

Steve Bates OBE, Chief Executive of the UK BioIndustry Association

“Genomics Nation highlights the UK’s continued international leadership in genomics. This advanced genomics ecosystem creates opportunities for skilled roles and investment, while we use genomic science to tackle some of society’s most challenging problems, from improving healthcare to mitigating climate change.”

Dr Julia Wilson, Associate Director of the Wellcome Sanger Institute

Even though genomics companies represent just 9.8 per cent of the total population of the life sciences in our country, from 2017 to 2021 they were able to attract 23.4 per cent of all equity investment. This second edition of the Genomics Nation Report, which was first published in July 2021, intends to be an annual snapshot of the state of the Genomics sector, showcasing the strengths and opportunities in the UK.