April 2, 2019

Spotlight shines on life sciences sector at RWK Goodman’s Life After Brexit event in Oxford

Around 70 people have gathered at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford to look at the challenges facing the UK’s life sciences sector in a special Life After Brexit event hosted by law firm RWK Goodman.

The evening on Thursday, which brought together sector experts and stakeholders, sparked rich discussions on the opportunities to ensure the UK remains a leading place in the world to develop and launch innovative medicines, technologies and diagnostics.

Guests were joined by speakers Professor Chas Bountra, Pro Vice Chancellor, Innovation, at Oxford University, and Bill Haynes, Head of Site at Novo Nordisk Research Centre in Oxford.

There was also a lively question and answer discussion chaired by Labour peer Stewart Wood with panellists including Priya Mande, Chief Operating Officer from PsiOxus, Stephen Conway, Director of Research Services at Oxford University, and Partner Claus Anderson, who heads up our Brexit taskforce and life sciences team.

The debate reflected the transformative science taking place, as well as its unique infrastructures, novel partnerships and great leaders. It confirmed life sciences work is hugely important for the UK economy and global health. While it was acknowledged there has been uncertainty from Brexit, there was an agreement that it’s essential for all stakeholders to remain outward-looking and work together and ensure the sector remains a magnet for talent.

Partner Claus Andersen said: “We were very pleased to see so many people join us and be informed by our world class speakers and panellists. The event was very positive and interesting, and demonstrated there is a very clear focus for the future of the sector with talent, funding and collaboration being the key elements.

“The biggest challenge with Brexit is the lack of certainty, with planning required for the various scenarios. There is a raft of issues to consider, including regulatory aspects and developing some sort of EU presence. People will still want to invest in the UK and life sciences will attract a lot of interest.

“It has been a distraction but once Brexit is over there will still be interest in the UK, and of course the Government has a role to play. UK companies will need to adopt measures to attract scientists.”

Professor Chas Bountra added: “We’ve got some phenomenal universities producing great leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators. We’ve got some awesome infrastructures across the country, and the UK has got a brilliant track record in drug discovery. A number of pharmaceutical companies are based here in the UK so I think it’s a great place for life sciences.”

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