Boost for burgeoning life sciences sector in Bristol as city’s expertise is harnessed for new partnership

July 10, 2024

Bristol’s burgeoning life sciences ecosystem is to be strengthened through a new partnership that brings together some of the major players in the sector across the region.

South West Life Sciences has been set up and is being led by the University of Bristol’s Translational Research Hub. 

It aims to increase the visibility of a sector with huge growth potential and the ability to create high-skilled jobs as well as boosting the value of research and development carried out in the region’s academic institutes.

The West of England already boasts the third-fastest expanding life sciences sector in the UK for employment, while its life sciences and technology related ecosystem was valued at £8.1bn in 2022.

The wider South West – home to more than 370 life sciences companies and employs approximately 20,000 people in the sector – is widely regarded as having the ability for major growth and investment.

It is already home to some of the UK’s most exciting advances in the sector – from accelerating life-saving gene therapy research to launching the UK’s most powerful supercomputer, the University of Bristol’s £225m Isambard-AI.

However, unlike other UK regions, the South West has lacked a regional advocacy body and co-ordinated promotion of its life sciences sector. 

South West Life Sciences aims to foster a joined-up local life sciences innovation ecosystem and act as catalyst for its growth through making connections.

It will also be the first step towards establishing an advocacy organisation for the South West, which will increase the visibility of the region’s life sciences ecosystem to ensure so its voice is heard outside the region by government, industry, investors and international organisations.

Joining the University of Bristol in the partnership are Bristol Health Partners – a collaboration between the region’s universities, health and care providers and councils – Bristol Trials Centre, GW4 – which brings together the universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter -  Health Innovation South West, Invest Bristol & Bath (part of the West of England Combined Authority), Bristol incubator Science Creates and South West and Wales Advanced Therapies Network.

It has been funded by an existing Wellcome Translational Partnership Award to the University of Bristol. 

University of Bristol pro vice-chancellor and executive dean for the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Prof Jeremy Tavaré, said: “Bristol is committed to building research partnerships that help make a positive impact by tackling global health challenges.

“It is exciting to see the launch of South West Life Sciences that will help drive new collaborations, increased investment and recognition of the excellent science taking place in our region, all with the shared aim of developing innovative treatments for diseases and advancing life sciences for a healthier future.”

Dr Sarah George, head of the university’s Translational Research Hub, added: “We’re excited to have brought South West Life Sciences to life with our partners and we’re looking forward to working with more organisations in the future.

“We want to help them, and the region, benefit from the initiative, for example through new collaborations, increased investment and recognition of the excellent science taking place in our region.

“In the long term, we hope to develop South West Life Sciences into an independent organisation providing expanded services and support for its partners.”

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