- New report shows increase in partnerships as industry and academia come together to share innovation and improve training in a ‘thriving UK life sciences sector’.
A new report from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) today [15th September] highlights the growing number of collaborations and partnerships between the pharmaceutical industry and academic institutions - including the UK's top universities - and charities and the NHS.
The report shows that the number of apprenticeships offered by pharmaceutical companies more than doubled in the 2 years between December 2013 and December 2015. Most of these are advanced (level 3) and high level (level 4+) apprenticeships with some apprentices working towards foundation and honours degrees. The number of undergraduates on placement in pharmaceutical companies has also increased by 42% over this period. This experience helps give new graduates the skills they need for future employment. More than 550 PhD students are also currently being supported by pharmaceutical companies and given the opportunity to gain industrial experience
The figures highlight the value placed by both industry and universities into collaborative working which are helping to maintain the UK's position at the leading edge of pharmaceutical research and development.
The report shows that a wide range of the UK's universities are currently involved in collaborations with the pharmaceutical industry. Loughborough University reports the highest number of overall undergraduate industrial placements as well as the highest number of undergraduate non-research and development (R&D) manufacturing placements. The University of Bath provided the highest number of R&D placements.
The report shows a slight decrease overall in UK PhD studentships, from 646 to 552. The University of Strathclyde has moved from 4th position in 2013 to first place in 2015 with 75 collaborative PhD students with pharmaceutical companies, almost double that of second place University College London (UCL) with 42 collaborative PhD students.
The number of major collaborative projects and initiatives is growing rapidly as industry shifts towards long-term open partnerships, with each partner contributing and sharing their expertise. One example is the GSK-Crick open collaboration, announced in 2015, which facilitates teams of researchers working on early-stage research to unravel the underlying pathology of human disease. This could have huge potential for boosting the development of successful, medicines and treatments.
Many of the innovative research projects are supported through EU funding, including those projects funded via the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), of which the UK is one of the main beneficiaries.
Malcolm Skingle, Chair of the ABPI Academic Liaison Expert Network, "Collaborations are important for industry, institutions, and individuals. By working together ideas and expertise are able to flow and result in an array of benefits for all those involved. For companies, partnerships could support more efficient and successful drug development, reduce risk associated with investing in innovative research, or provide greater access to talented graduates. For academics, partnerships can increase access to specialist data and equipment, increased job prospects, and a greater understanding of real-world and industrial challenges."
"It's encouraging to see an increase in the number and variety of partnerships, both to support the next generation of researchers, scientists and manufacturers and to help find the medicines and treatments of tomorrow."
Sarah Jones, Head of Education and Academic Liaison at the ABPI said: "The report highlights both the increasing number of academic -industry partnerships taking place across the UK and also the diversity of training that is on offer across the UK. The growing number of apprenticeships that pharmaceutical companies are offering is great news for young people who want to gain well respected qualifications whilst gaining the skills needed for employment across a number of areas, including engineering, manufacturing, research and development, IT and finance."
Since 2003, ABPI member companies have been asked biennially about their links with academia, from individual undergraduate placements to significant collaborations involving multiple companies and institutions.
Notes to Editor
The 2015 survey shows that the breadth and types of collaborations are changing. It is available as a PDF on the ABPI website.
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About the ABPI
The ABPI represents innovative research-based biopharmaceutical companies, large, medium and small, leading an exciting new era of biosciences in the UK.
Our industry, a major contributor to the economy of the UK, brings life-saving and life-enhancing medicines to patients. We represent companies supplying around 90 per cent of all medicines used by the NHS, and are researching and developing the majority of the current medicines pipeline, ensuring that the UK remains at the forefront of helping patients prevent and overcome diseases.
The ABPI is recognised by government as the industry body negotiating on behalf of the branded pharmaceutical industry, for statutory consultation requirements including the pricing scheme for medicines in the UK.