2015 Life & Health Sciences Report
Today, the global life and health sciences (LHS) sector is in the midst of significant and rapid change, which presents both opportunities and challenges for Northern Ireland.
Driving this change are supply and demand side pressures, lifestyle choices, longevity and a rise in chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity and dementia. The upward trend in spending means healthcare is becoming a more significant part of national GDP and along with this the long-term sustainability of current models of provision is being increasingly questioned.
There will need to be fundamental changes in the way that the LHS sector is developed in order to address the challenges and opportunities this presents for Northern Ireland. One significant way of enabling and assessing this change will be the development of health economics and predictive analysis.
The 2008 Matrix Life & Health Sciences Foresight Report suggested home based care and personalised medicine were key areas of focus going forward. Key enablers like connected health, targeted R&D initiatives and key required infrastructural elements like the HILS Hub (which is to act as a central hub for sustainable and effective interaction between the various spokes (research and innovation centres) in the HSC, the private sector, academia and the various economic development agencies) have been the subject of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the DHSSPS and DETI.
The 2015 report mapped areas of global demand alongside areas of strength to identify five areas of overlap:
LHS performance across the sectors
The contribution of life and health sciences to the Northern Ireland economy has increased over the past five years.
- 2014 Research Excellence Framework – QUB and UU achieved impressive life sciences results.
- Over 1,000 people in centres of excellence attracting over £50m in funding
- Every £1 of HSC R&D funding leverages an additional £4.14.
- One in five funded studies impacting positively on increased length or quality of life.
- Unique integrated health and social care is a positive that has yet to realise a benefit for the sector as a whole.
- Approximately 130 mostly indigenous companies employing around 7,500 people – averaging 10% growth per annum in last 3 years.
- Highly export focussed sector – around 10% of Northern Ireland exports, growing by average 12% per annum.
- Internationally recognized R&D capability in sensors, diagnostics, oncology, diabetes and vision science, respiratory medicine and clinical research aligned with its highly rated REF universities, QUB and UU.
- Largely indigenous business base with 3 global leaders in diagnostics, generics, veterinary pharmaceuticals and drug discovery who have developed their own unique supply chains.
- Close to £1bn value to local economy and is 90% export orientated.
- Accounts for approximately12.5% of all Northern Ireland R&D expenditure.
- Northern Ireland has already created the ideal climate for the life sciences sector with unique integrated health and social care infrastructure.
Megatrends in Life & Health Sciences
The development of health economics will enable Northern Ireland to better take advantage of demands across key health markets. There will be an increase in demand for more effective and personalised care across a number of health sectors including:
Key enabling technologies
There are a range of key enabling technologies and processes required to capitalise on the opportunities arising from these demands across sectoral markets. These include: .
capture the opportunites across health sectors. Additionally, the evolution of companion diagnostics will represent a shift from single to multiplex analyses to guide treatment decisions, monitor treatment effectiveness and occurrence of acquired drug resistance.
In order to build the right conditions for the life and health sciences in Northern Ireland, five priority areas need to be progressed:
- Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) and the Department for Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) to create a new overarching Health and Life Sciences Strategy for Northern Ireland
- To establish a Health Innovation and Life Sciences Hub (HILS Hub) to co-ordinate and drive individual projects and programmes coming out of the overall agreed Life & Health Sciences strategy.
DETI and DHSSPS are about to embark on the development of a Life & Health Sciences Strategy for Northern Ireland and, reflecting the UK Strategy for Life Sciences, a Life Sciences Champion for Northern Ireland should be appointed in order to support its delivery.
The Task & Finish Group report described the HILS Hub as a “central hub for sustainable and effective interaction between the various spokes (research and innovation centres) in HSC, LHS, private sector, academia and the various economic development agencies”.
There is a need for such a facility built on existing areas of excellence to act as a hub for the many distributed spokes of excellence throughout Northern Ireland. This facility would also allow for the development and implementation of a more coherent LHS strategy, ultimately leading to the attraction of more and higher quality FDI. The success the Northern Ireland Science Park has been successful at attracting FDI into the IT sector is a great example of how this model could work.
The life and health science (LHS) sector of Northern Ireland therefore requires a visible, dynamic and committed leadership structure that will:
- constitute a single point of contact for all stakeholders involved in the sector;
- lead the execution of Northern Ireland LHS strategy;
- act as the catalyst for further collaboration between academia, industry and the HSC;
- represent Northern Ireland internationally from a marketing perspective and where funding and grant opportunities are available; and
- review the overall market trends to ensure Northern Ireland remains in line with key market opportunities.
Establish a Life & Health Sciences hub that will act as the single point of contact for all stakeholders in the LHS sector and will have the attributes listed above.
Appoint a Life & Health Sciences Champion for Northern Ireland.
Connected Health and Prosperity Project (CHAP) Board
- an increasing focus on the need for personalised care and prevention
- the shift towards a partnership model of care where patients will play an active part in determining their own care and support needs
- greater focus on prevention, earlier diagnosis and better treatments
- building the capability to help people manage multiple chronic conditions at once
Northern Ireland will continue to build on established strengths in oncology, respiratory, cardiology, diabetes and vision/ ophthalmology whilst addressing emerging challenges by employing key enabling capabilities in:
- big data
- data analytics
- clinical trials
- precision medicine and stratified medicine
- connected health.
Establish teams to advance each of the six focus areas. These teams will involve a range of partners whose role will be to outline the necessary actions and activities, which they and the central facility will see implemented.
Life & Health Sciences Hub (once established)
- improve quality of care and efficiency of service
- improve care professional decision-making for individuals
- improve planning for health and wellbeing
- improve support to individuals to manage their health and wellbeing
- help support the growth of indigenous companies and attract FDI.
This can be realised by:
- utilising the HSC’s datasets in order to help improve health and wellbeing
- facilitating access, including private sector companies, to HSC customers and users in the context of product and service development and procurement activities
- securing time that care professionals can spend on Research & Development and Innovation in collaboration with the rest of the sector
- adopting a leadership position in the development and use of innovative technologies
- establishing a biomedical research facility which will conduct translational research to transform scientific breakthroughs into life-saving treatments for patients (reflecting Objective 3 of the HSC R&D strategy).
- Create an environment for effective R&D within the HSC and ensure that this R&D is linked not only to specific patient outcome objectives but also to economic development objectives.
- Facilitate meaningful, legal and intelligent access to the datasets that reside within the HSC.
- Develop stronger collaboration between the HSC and companies (indigenous and FDI) in order to deliver better patient outcomes and drive local economic growth.
HSC (with assistance from Invest NI on company collaboration)
- focus on building up areas of critical mass in the Life & Health Sciences
- provide clearer leadership within FDI policy
- leverage existing Northern Ireland sectoral strengths and Northern Ireland global stars
- ensure phased development of existing FDI (the recent growth of the IT sector in Northern Ireland illustrates how high value FDI can grow out of low value FDI)
- incorporate the retention, attraction and growth of skills as a key part of attracting FDI (research has indicated that the availability of graduates drives high quality FDI)
- place FDI by acquisition on the agenda as an acceptable development option.
- Develop and implement an FDI strategy for providing leadership and building up areas of critical mass for LHS.
- Build a sustainable sectoral marketing capability.
- Leverage the opportunity of bidding for the Precision Medicine Catapult to demonstrate the level of collaboration and integration across academia, industry, HSC and government.
- Human capital
- Legal framework
- Regulatory framework