Guest Blog: How the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy could help grow the North East Region’s pharmaceutical manufacturing sector

In our latest guest blog, John Hildreth, Business Growth and Investment Manager at Arch: The Northumberland Development Company, looks at How the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy could help grow the North East Region’s pharmaceutical manufacturing sector

The opportunity to encourage significant growth and investment into the North East’s pharmaceutical manufacturing sector has recently come under the spotlight due to the launch of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Whitepaper which was published at the end of November 2017.

Here in the North East, we have international investors such as GSK, Piramal, The Specials Lab, MSD, Sterling Pharma Solutions and FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies who have all recognised the talented workforce and world-class expertise in the region’s universities and chosen to invest into the region along with other growing UK businesses such as Aesica, Glythera and Orla Proteins.

Together, the region’s manufacturers have full capability to develop drug manufacturing processes for clinical development and commercial supply of tableted medicines, underpinned by a world-class university expertise and an eco-system to support the growth of the sector.

Indeed, the strength of the North East sector was identified as one of the key opportunity areas in the refreshed North East Strategic Economic Plan, published earlier this year, and was profiled in Sir John Bell’s report to Government in preparation for the planned sector deal through the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy. Most recently the North East LEP highlighted the vibrancy and opportunity to encourage new and further investment into the sector.

A recent report, produced by First for Pharma and the North East LEP points out that in our region, the cluster of pharmaceutical companies employ between 4,300 and 5,300 people, contributing some £450-£790 million to the region’s (GVA). The multiplier effect sees the North East cluster’s impact on the UK as whole measured between 18,800 and 23,500 jobs across the UK and adding £0.73-£1.28 billion to the UK economy.

A great example of the impact which the cluster can deliver is perhaps best demonstrated by Northumberland based Arcinova, a leading global provider of research and development services to the pharmaceutical industry, which chose to invest into Northumberland earlier this year in order to increase its innovation capacity.

The company, working with our team here at Arch, was able to secure funding in order to increase its capabilities by developing its Alnwick facility. In what would typically be classed as a rural area, Arcinova was able to create new employment opportunities in Northumberland’s burgeoning life science, medicine manufacturing and pharmaceutical sector which includes big names such as Piramal, Aesica, The Specials Labs and MSD amongst others.

The £60,000 grant awarded to Arcinova from the Rural Growth Network Fund, supplemented a substantial capital investment from the company to develop an additional revenue stream to complement its existing capabilities.  The project includes the construction of a 20L API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient) manufacturing plant, a suite of new drug development services and the creation of at least 30 high-quality jobs over the next few years.

The funding has also helped the company to accelerate its strategy for growth as it seeks to provide world-beating technology services in contract research, development and small scale manufacturing from one site. The move also helped its UK and international customers progress their projects through the drug development process efficiently and with minimum risk, which a key considerations when innovating in the pharmaceutical sector.

On the basis of this evidence, I believe the North East’s pharmaceutical manufacturing sector has the strength to grow in its own right as well as having significant potential to attract new investment from international firms and innovative growing firms from within the UK, accelerated with the support on offer from UK’s Industrial Strategy.

Blog written by John Hildreth, Business Growth and Investment Manager, Arch Group – The Northumberland Development Compnay

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