Life Sciences and sustainable Tech are clearly the main areas of focus in the Government’s recently released Innovation Strategy.
The PM has aspirations of making the UK a science superpower by 2030 while also striving to end the country’s greenhouse gas contributions by 2050, through the UK’s £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio.
Investors and entrepreneurs involved in these sectors will be particularly attentive over the government’s future plans, with funding opportunities both domestically and foreign, expected to rise.
In response, the British Business Bank has launched the Life Sciences Investment Programme, a £200 million investment targeting the growth-stage funding gap faced by UK life science companies.
In line with the government’s goal of “levelling up” innovation across the entire UK, the life science and sustainable tech sectors are front and centre, and we are witnessing increased collaboration between UK cities, as seen with the Digital Pathology & Imaging AI Centre of Excellence Programme.
Supported by £50 million of Industrial Strategy Challenge Funding, and £33 million of industry investment, the Centres (based in London, Leeds, Oxford, Coventry and Glasgow) are curating data from hundreds of thousands of diagnostic images a year to make new AI systems for analysis of medical imaging, improving diagnosis and delivering precision treatments.
Initiatives are not just being introduced for the companies of the future, with traditional industries also under the government’s spotlight, highlighting their importance in shaping a more sustainable, innovative UK.
Across the Midlands for example, £18.3 million will be going towards the Midlands Industrial Ceramics Group to improve manufacturing processes in advanced ceramics making them more energy-efficient, faster and cheaper.
In Scotland & Cumbria, £21.3 million will be going to the Digital Dairy Value-Chain project will create a dairy industry that is more efficient and sustainable by combining digital communications and advanced manufacturing. Sustainability for the future, across the entire UK is the key focus for both traditional and new companies.
Despite a heavy emphasis on the sectors mentioned, investors across the board should be vigilant as the greatest benefits will often be at the intersection of various technology families. ‘Cyber-physical infrastructure’ will enable this; weaving together AI, connected smart machines, data, digital twins, and other technologies.
As an example, agricultural machines managed by AI will nurture crops using orbital sensors that allow real-time environment analysis, resulting in sustainable and affordable food.
The key now, is to support technologies at their interfaces, accelerate innovation and multiply the potential of start-ups and early-stage companies through effective investing.
Overall, the UK is keen to nurture and retain an eco-system that delivers innovative technologies that can also respond quickly to future emergencies, emulating the legacy of the Vaccine Taskforce in response to COVID-19.
Ongoing government procurement reform post-Brexit aims to simplify the investing process, while increasing flexibility for entrepreneurs to procure more innovative solutions within the life-sciences and sustainable tech industries.