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Life Science Innovations That Could Secure R&D Funding

The Life Sciences sector covers everything from pharmaceuticals and disease research to plant life, biological resources and much more.

Barrie Dowsett

Chief Executive Officer


5 minute read

The Life Sciences sector covers everything from pharmaceuticals and disease research to plant life, biological resources and much more. Indeed, at the heart of life sciences is innovation involving intense scientific research.

From harvesting penicillin in 1928 to the discovery of DNA back in the ‘50s, the UK has long been a world leader and innovator in all things life science. And of course, with an uncertain economic and political road ahead, the government is keen to support the sector going forward. Back in 2017, in recognition of the sector’s contribution to the UK economy and to public health, the government announced details of £160 million of funding for the sector up to the end of 2021. This then formed an integral part of the Life sciences industrial strategy.

At Myriad Associates we work with a broad mix of businesses across a range of disciplines, with the life sciences sector being particularly prominent. And with R&D funding offering such a valuable cash injection for companies up and down the country, now is the ideal time to make a claim.

Here we look at some of the recent innovative thinking to come out of the life sciences sector here in the UK and discover how R&D tax relief can help.

Collaboration amongst pharmaceutical companies

Successfully reducing waste in pharmaceutical development, and integrating new technologies, has represented a big step forward from the siloed R&D models typically seen in large pharmaceutical companies of the 1980s and ‘90s. In more recent times, collaborative working has been recognised as the ideal vehicle in sharing and implementing innovative ideas that really make a difference to peoples’ lives.

Collaboration gives companies the perfect opportunity to share knowledge and expertise as well as in accessing a huge amount of new technology. Nowadays, it’s often the case that life science industry collaborations are research partnerships between big pharmaceutical companies and small biotech organisations. This is largely thanks to the development of open-innovation approaches or bioscience clusters. With collaboration set to continue going forward, the full potential of collaboration will be fully unlocked when big pharmaceutical companies work closely not just with SMEs and academic institutions but also with each other.

Healthcare investment for an aging population

People are now living longer, increasing demand on specialised medicines and therapies particularly. However, innovative new solutions to increasingly complex medical problems take time to develop and typically come with an eye-watering price tag. Taking into account clinical attrition, the time and financial cost of new drug development currently stands at £2 billion on average and can easily take 10 years. Innovation has recently taken place to reduce this rapidly, with the coronavirus pandemic bringing this into sharp focus.

Innovation in clinical trials

The UK has one of the very highest numbers of clinical drug testing trials in Europe and is home to eight of the continent’s top science-led universities. Suffice to say, innovation in the life science sector is something this country excels at, and this is set to continue. In recent years, the life sciences sector has been at the forefront of research into new treatments for various genetically targeted personalised medicines. The outcomes of this research has been used in offering more effective treatment for cancers of the blood, breast, skin, brain and colon specifically.


We couldn’t talk about life sciences innovation without talking more about COVID-19. Amongst the fear and worry however, one thing’s for sure - the pandemic has certainly brought about some serious life sciences innovation.

From beefing up vaccine research to repurposing existing drugs to testing various therapeutic treatments, the life sciences sector has been a buzz of activity in recent months. Time is of the essence, with new COVID-19 treatments now due to be fast-tracked through a new initiative around clinical trial trials. This initiative involves the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and partners across government and in industry.

This new, highly innovative platform will drastically speed up the development of new drugs to treat patients hospitalised with COVID-19. It will also slash the time taken to set up clinical studies for new therapies from several months to only a few weeks, which in turn helps to ease NHS pressure and ultimately save lives.

Known as the Accelerating COVID-19 Research & Development platform (ACCORD), this collaborative programme aims to quickly gain an indication of the effectiveness of a COVID-19 drug treatment so clinicians can better plan a patient’s care. If positive results are seen, these drugs will form part of larger scale trials more rapidly.

At the moment there are three potential new drugs that will enter the programme initially, although more are set to follow.

How R&D Tax Credits are a welcome financial boost to innovation companies UK-wide

There’s no doubt that whatever industry a company is in, research and development doesn’t come cheap - but R&D Tax Credits can offer a massive leg up.

The R&D Tax Credits scheme is a lucrative tax incentive offered by the government to any company that has recently made a technological or scientific advancement in their field. Costs that can be reclaimed include staff costs, various overheads, materials, certain software and much more. Plus, with the relief worth as much as 33 pence in every £1 of R&D expenditure, even the smallest claims can add up to serious cash.

It’s not only aimed at companies in the life sciences sector either! The R&D Tax Credits scheme is open to any UK-based company that has spent money on creating a new product, process or service or enhancing an existing one. The benefit is offered either as a reduction in Corporation Tax for profit-making companies, or as a cash lump sum for those making a loss. It doesn’t even matter whether the project was successful or not, as long as scientific and/or technological research was address.

Keen to find out more?

Why not take a look at our R&D Tax Credits page or call our R&D tax relief experts on 0207 118 6045. We’re working as usual during the pandemic and will be pleased to answer any questions and get your claim off the ground.

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