The British In-Vitro Diagnostics Association (BIVDA) is calling on the UK government to put support for the UK’s in-vitro diagnostics (IVD) industry at the centre of the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review.
BIVDA states that a well supported IVD industry is critical if the NHS is to recover and clear the backlog of undiagnosed patients that have occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. BIVDA is calling on chancellor Rishi Sunak to focus on both short and long-term funding for the UK’s IVD industry, and is suggesting areas of innovation, manufacturing and talent of key importance.
In particular, BIVDA state that greater resources are needed for translating science into commercial products, something which can be achieved by better co-ordination of diagnostic funding activity across the various UK government organisations and a focus on innovation in manufacturing and investment in manufacturing capability.
BIVDA states that the critical difference will be in ensuring that products are made in the UK to boost the country’s manufacturing capability in IVDs. To assist with this, focus should be placed on automated manufacturing to enable the UK to compete with low labour-cost countries.
Financial support should also be given to organisations such as the Northern Powerhouse to invest in manufacturing-focused diagnostic companies, to help SMEs grow and scale-up, and also help boost innovation in the latest manufacturing processes. This can also be supported on the supply side through additional measures, for example export tax credits, to promote the manufacture of products that have real export potential, BIVDA states.
Lastly, BIVDA states that a large pool of talent within the UK is vital to support the growth of the sector and will health underpin all other efforts. To do this, investment in higher education should be a priority, through the likes of specific diagnostic apprenticeships and diagnostic-research and degrees capabilities within UK universities. These efforts should be supported by government investment into an R&D workforce with a range of difference skills. BIVDA points to the possibility of there being 4.2 million highly skilled jobs that are left without suitable candidates by 2025 – a skills gap which could cost the economy £90 billion every year.
BIVDA chief executive, Doris-Ann Williams said: “A well supported IVD industry will be critical in getting the country back on its feet as we continue to recover from the pandemic. Only with a concerted effort and government support can we ensure that the UK life sciences sector can compete on a global level, bringing better health outcomes, advanced manufacturing capability and highly skilled jobs to our country.”