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Key Messages from the London Stock Exchange Future of Healthcare Investment Forum 2022

UK health data is at the heart of what ultimately will become a newly competitive life science industry in the UK. This was one of the decisive takeaways from the London Stock Exchange Future of Healthcare Investment Forum 2022, centring on the role of data and AI in accelerating drug discovery and healthcare solutions. MedCity CEO Neelam Patel reflects on the core themes that emerged at this year’s event.

Since 2015 MedCity has partnered with the London Stock Exchange to host the Future of Healthcare Investor Forum, together with the Bioindustry Association and sponsors Numis and JP Morgan and Consilium Strategic Communications. The objective has been to engage with, and inform investors about opportunities in life sciences, but this year the event brought together the themes of life sciences innovation, entrepreneurialism, investment, the NHS, policy and the regulatory framework to create a vision for a holistic and world-leading ecosystem.

One of the objectives behind the UK Government’s Life Sciences Vision has been to unite the globally competitive life science sector in the UK with our globally competitive financial services sector, observed Sir Jonathan Symonds, non-executive Chair of GSK, and also chair of the Life Science Vision advisory board. Now is the opportunity to connect them, he proposed in his keynote speech.

Sir Jonathan sounded the alarm that during the past decade, UK companies have created more value in US markets than here. The solution? To tackle the fundamentals of what it takes for the UK to be a complete ecosystem, that can compete on equal footing with the US. Unlocking the potential of health data is one of those preconditions, capitalising on the UK’s unique position with cradle to grave information around people’s health, and the only country that uses genomic sequencing as part of routine care.

Machine learning and AI are already transforming the economics of drug discovery, making the process five to 10 times more efficient, and shrinking some aspects of the pre-clinical stage from 5 years to the space of a weekend, as demonstrated by panellists from Benevolent AI, Healx and other pioneers in the space.

On a separate panel, companies applying data and technology to deliver more efficient healthcare shared their approaches — from using patient data and genomic analysis to anticipate risks before they become critical enough to require hospitalisation to placing a robot between patient and the surgeon to collect data that can be fed to back to the surgeon and hospital to ultimately enable better patient care.

A recurring theme at the policy level was the plea for pension reform to unlock institutional capital for alternative assets including life sciences. In parallel, Stephen Lightfoot, Non Executive Chair of the MHRA, outlined changes that are afoot to the regulatory framework, hinting at an imminent government announcement on proposed new legislation. Part of the new vision is to build international inter-operability so the UK becomes a preferred site for conducting multi-national trials, including the phase 3 studies which have often eluded the UK.

MHRA and NIHR intend to make clinical trials more service oriented through the Clinical Practice Research Datalink, a network of over 2000 GPs representing more than 16 million patient. This network is also unlocking real-world data through records for more than 3 billion consultations. Recognising the importance of genomics, a key initiative for MHRA is a Yellow Card Biobank, which will collect and sequence DNA samples for a watchlist of research topics to establish if specific genetic variants can predispose an individual to an adverse effect to a drug or vaccine.

In summary, the UK’s progressive regulatory system, the quality of innovation and talent in the UK, and the continued push for capital into the sector were all clearly in evidence at this year’s Forum. Amid recent uncertainties, it was reassuring to sense the momentum in the sector, and hear from several stakeholders that it has never been a more exciting time to be in life sciences in the UK.

To enjoy the full discussion you can now watch back the recording of the event.


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