New Report Points to "Thriving Service and Supply Sector for UK Medicines Discovery"

May 13, 2019

The UK’s Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC) and the BioIndustry Association have today released the

The UK’s Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC) and the BioIndustry Association have today released the 2019 State of the Discovery Nation report, providing insights into the UK’s growing medicines discovery industry.   Revealing “a thriving service and supply sector for the UK in addition to its R&D biotechs”, the research found that service and supply companies account for 80% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in UK medicines discovery, and 90% of employment. Twenty per cent of companies are actively focussed on therapeutic product development.   Key insights from the report reveal:

  • 300 companies are focussed on discovering potential new medicines; 70% are working in the areas of cancer, anti-infectives and the central nervous system

  • 1,200 companies provide vital services and supplies

  • Despite their size, SMEs are a critical source of innovation for new medicines; 60% have fewer than 5 staff and 80% have fewer than 20 people within the company.

In addition, the BIA’s benchmarking report showed that by 2025 the UK could support an additional:

  • 33,000 biotech jobs

  • 50 biotech companies at early clinical stage.

The report also shows that the medicines discovery community view AI as not only one of the current ‘hot areas’, but integral to improving medicines discovery decision making.

  • 90% of medicines discovery companies confirmed a need for AI

  • 75% of current AI spend is on data access, curation and data labeling

  • AI budgets are growing, but the industry is calling for benchmarks and comparisons between AI systems

  • Small companies prefer to sell their assets; large companies prefer embarking on partnerships.

Chris Molloy, Chief Executive Officer of Medicines Discovery Catapult, commented: “It is vital that we maintain our global competitiveness and R&D services can be a major sector driving international trade. The report’s findings help shape our strategy at MDC and we will continue to strengthen R&D productivity to create new medicines for patients.”   Steve Bates, Chief Executive Officer of BioIndustry, added: “Many virtual and small biotechs, as well as established global pharma players, rely on the expertise and capability of UK service providers... It’s vitally important policy makers understand this network and supply chain as we work together to deliver the UK life science industrial strategy.”   Read the full report at

https://mdc.link/sodn19