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The UK’s life sciences sector contributes £43.3billion in GVA in 2021

By October 20, 2023No Comments

The UK’s life sciences sector contributed £43.3billion to the UK economy in 2021 through production of goods and services. This is according to PwC’s latest analysis in its Life Sciences Future50 report celebrating 50 UK companies innovating to solve the hardest problems in human health and science.

The sector has seen strong growth since before the pandemic in 2019, with 17.6% growth from £36.9billion in gross value added (GVA) in two years (8.5% per annum). In 2021, pharmaceutical manufacturing was responsible for the majority of the sector’s GVA contribution – £19.2 billion in total – followed by medical technology manufacturing – £18.4billion – and life sciences research was responsible for £5.7billion. The sector also supported 646,000 jobs in the UK in 2021 – an increase from 585,000 in 2019.

PwC’s Life Sciences Future50 report identifies a sample of companies demonstrating how the UK’s world-leading life sciences sector is harnessing the power of biotherapeutics, digital health, AI and devices to accelerate the pace of research – signaling a significant step change in the level of breakthrough science delivering better patient outcomes.

Regional growth and opportunities

The Future 50 shows a significant concentration of companies in the Golden Triangle of Oxford – Cambridge – London, with 18 based in Cambridge, 15 in London and 11 in Oxford, with many of the UK’s leading academic institutions in this area. However, there is an opportunity to unlock the potential of emerging hubs such as Bristol, Manchester and Edinburgh. Seven companies are located outside the Golden Triangle, with three in Edinburgh and one in each of Manchester, Bristol, Coventry and Belfast.

While the UK is exceptionally strong in early-stage development and funding, there are barriers to delivering the full medical and economic benefits for the sector. PwC’s report highlights the need to boost late-stage funding and infrastructure capacity for the UK to realise its global superpower ambitions.

George Freeman MP, Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, said:

“Our £94 billion life sciences sector is critical to our plans to grow the economy, improve public health and cement the UK’s status as a science superpower. These 50 companies exemplify how the sector delivers highly-skilled jobs and drives investment into clusters right across the country, from Bristol to Belfast.”


Ben Kemp