Life Sciences in South East England attracting Japanese pharma investment

The Greater South East region is a powerhouse for the life sciences industry in the UK and part of that is being fuelled by the inward investment from Japanese Pharma companies. Working with MedCity, our report, Japanese pharma in Cambridge, London, Oxford, and South East of England, looks at why that is and offers some measures that could enhance the relationship.

Backed by significant UK Government effort, the region offers substantial attractions to Japanese companies looking to locate overseas, from the quality of its talent and academic institutions, to the robustness of its regulatory framework and the diversity of the pharmaceutical sector. Add to those an open and positive society, the availability of both specialist and general management talent, and competitive costs, and it’s clear the region has a vast number of opportunities to offer.

Japanese pharmaceutical companies value the South East of England…






















Benefits for the patient

If Japanese pharma were to further invest in South East England (SEE) and partner with local organisations such as MedCity and the Catapults - more benefits could be realised by companies, SEE and consumers.

  1. An expanded demand base could drive an increase in revenues for companies, particularly if there is no existing presence in SEE.

  2. Through SEE’s R&D facilities and network, the development of drugs could be accelerated benefiting consumers and companies. This ties in nicely with the objectives of the Office of Life Sciences which also commissioned our report on Accelerated Access.

  3. Strengthening SEE’s position as a key opinions leader could influence prescribing and treatment guidelines, taking into account innovative developments and improving the overall standard of care. This is critical if the UK is ever to regain the top spot for R&D and lead the way in terms of real world data collection.

  4. Local technical, scientific and networking support from organisations such as MedCity and the Catapults could assist companies.

  5. Increasing the network benefits of the already 150-plus biotech companies across the region, growing med tech and digital health technology capabilities.


How can investment be increased?

Working together across the SEE there are several actionable recommendations we identified:

  1. Further removal of red tape for clinical trials, enabling early access and the uptake of innovation. The Health Research Authority (HRA) and the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) are well placed to enact change here.

  2. Allow room for ‘serendipitous’ discoveries: While most Pharma found finance accessible, UK academic institutions’ research is driven by what is most commercially beneficial, with success measured via publications and grants received. Research councils and other funders could assist the government in encouraging research that focuses on earlier disease biology and more explorative research.

  3. Facilitate funding for start-ups: The VC community is vibrant in SEE but some mid-sized pharmas struggled to access finance. The UK Government alongside R&D hubs could incentivise investment in this area, benefiting both VC’s and companies in the medium to long term.

  4. Build business acumen: UK academic institutions provide strong, deep research talent pools. Commercial nous of this talent is not as strong. Initiatives such as “sandwich” placements, industrial internships and guest lecturers from industry would help strengthen this.

If these challenges are navigated and the opportunities are seized, SEE can offer Japanese companies a strong platform for growth outside Japan.

Read the full report here.

Dr Myrto Lee | Director
Email |+44 (0)207 804 8149

View Myrto's profile on LinkedIn


James Loughrigdge | Associate
Email |+44 (0) 28 9034 6552

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