A new report by Eli Lilly, in partnership with Public Policy Projects, calls on industry, academia and the NHS to do more to foster collaboration to ensure the UK maintains its global leadership position at the forefront of medicine research and discovery.

Brexit instabilities and growing economic uncertainty have made the need for collaboration more pressing. Despite the UK’s unique combination of assets, many significant barriers to cooperation remain. These include hard issues, such as complexity, sustainability and scalability, but also the softer issues, such as ideology, culture and lack of trust.

Between 2016 and 2017, the pharmaceutical industry invested £7.5 million on joint working projects with the NHS, yet according to a recent publication by the NHS Confederation and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), many NHS leaders feel that working in partnership cannot be openly disclosed.

Senior Medical Director at Lilly UK, Mr Arash Tahbaz, said: “the report exposes the extent to which collaboration between the NHS, industry and academia is essential for the UK to maintain its world-leading position in life sciences.”

The report, entitled “The Next Wave of Health Innovation: Powered by Partnerships”, highlights the unique potential of the UK life sciences sector with its ability to draw on world-class universities, a strong pharmaceutical and biosciences sector and one of the largest single healthcare systems in the world.

“It has never been more important for the key players in healthcare to come together, break down barriers and share our knowledge, research and resources to help us discover the medicines of tomorrow,” added Mr Tahbaz.

A series of recommendations are outlined in the report, including:

  • Developing pre-competitive projects and public-private partnerships to respond to major societal challenges such as dementia and diabetes.
  • Empowering NHS clinicians to support the development of the latest medical innovations to ensure they are patient-centred and are effectively deployed across the NHS.
  • Developing skills that will allow us to harness emerging technologies, such as digital literacy, genomics and bioinformatics.
  • Maintaining the attractiveness of the UK as a place to conduct research partnerships post- Brexit, through a streamlined clinical trials process, alignment with EU clinical trial regulations and greater certainty around public sector investment into R&D.
  • Ensuring a whole system approach on local and national levels to support joint working and to embrace innovation.

“All stakeholders must acknowledge and act on these recommendations as a matter of urgency. Only then will patients truly benefit from the next wave of innovation,” said Stephen Dorrell, Chair of Public Policy Projects.

The report is available here