Science minister George Freeman: The City of London has to be at the centre of the fourth industrial revolution - funding breakthroughs in technology and biosciences

George Freeman
Research Into Cancer Conducted At The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
The City must be the driving force behind the revolution in biosciences (Source: Getty)

You heard it at Davos, and in every boardroom in the City and Whitehall: what does the new model of 21st century innovation look like? How will the internet and bioscience revolutions - the "Fourth Industrial Revolution" - change our lives in the same way as the radio, automotive and aerospace sectors did over the last century?

The breathless pace of biotechnology and bioscience is driving a quiet revolution in the fields of medicine, agriculture and energy. From drought resistance crops to new personalised genomic drugs, the "bio-economy" is becoming big business. And as the rapidly developing world gets hungry for innovation, it is one the UK is leading.

So I'm delighted today to be opening the second Health and Life Science Day at the London Stock Exchange, which is doing great work through its "Elite" programme to identify and better support the fast growth companies of tomorrow.

The scale and market opportunity of the emerging bio-science revolution is vast, and life sciences is now becoming one of the UK’s biggest growth sectors. Government is ensuring its legacy – we protected the ring-fenced science budget in real terms to the end of this Parliament, and committed £6.9bn investment in science infrastructure up to 2021.

It’s a true success story. I’m delighted to reveal today that our latest estimates show that since I launched the Strategy for UK Life Sciences with the Prime Minister – to build long-term partnership between industry and government - we have attracted more than £6bn in new investment in the life sciences industry and created up to 17,000 new jobs since 2011.

But where do we go from here? And how can we make sure London is at the forefront of the next stage of 21st-century innovation?

I believe it means three things:

  • being bold in thinking how the City, innovative companies, and public sector can work together to support an innovation economy
  • recognising the global potential of the bio-science revolution
  • seizing the once-in-a-generation chance to rebalance our economy by exporting our science and innovation around the globe

London is every bit a biomedical powerhouse as Cambridge. That's why the Mayor of London and I recently convened a Summit to look at how we could develop the Med City initiative, supporting the entrepreneurs at the cutting edge of innovation. I believe London must not just be the home of stockmarket listings, but also be a dedicated hub for financing emerging companies and developing new funding models, crowdsourcing, and innovative fintech for the broader bioscience sector.

We have a unique opportunity to drive a new cycle of long-term growth. But to do that we must enable the collaboration of Government, with the public and the City to help innovative bio-science companies export their health, agri-tech and clean energy expertise to the emerging markets that need them. Already we have heard my colleague the business secretary, Sajid Javid, will launch an Innovation Plan for the UK. London has a big part to play.

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