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Birmingham will be a global force in life sciences, minister predicts

Life sciences minister George Freeman predicted the sector would double in size in the region – creating thousands of skilled jobs

Life sciences minister George Freeman

Birmingham is set to become a “major global force” in life sciences – with hundreds of companies heading in the city – according to a Government minister.

Life sciences minister George Freeman predicted the sector would double in size in the region – creating thousands of skilled jobs and making it a world force.

Already, there are 500 healthcare firms in the region, particularly clustered in Edgbaston, around the hospital and university, and it has brought in hundreds of millions of pounds of investment.

Life sciences is a key growth area for the city – and Mr Freeman, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Life Sciences, said he was confident the plans would be realised.

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He said: “The Birmingham and West Midlands life sciences cluster is becoming a major global force.

“There are over 500 companies here today in this cluster.

“Birmingham is now setting the standard for new models of trials, trial acceleration programme at the Institute for Translational Medicine pulling in over £150 million of new drugs programmes.

“Birmingham is rapidly becoming a centre for this new model of patient-centred research.

“How big could it be? Well, with the plans the universities, the hospitals, the LEP and council are putting in place, I think Birmingham has the chance to easily double that footprint in the next five or 10 years.

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“So we would be talking about 1,000 companies. Cambridge has 1,500 – so that would make Birmingham a serious player in the global life science sector as well as in the UK.”

Birmingham’s healthcare sector has grown on the back of the Institute of Translational Medicine, which aims to translate laboratory discovery into improved and increasingly personalised patient care, last year.

Central to the plans are using the large and diverse six million strong patient cohort in the surrounding area as a test bed like no other.

And it comes at a time of major change in life sciences, with innovations like digital pills, genomic drugs and devices that remotely monitor patients’ conditions.

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Cancer, rare diseases, chronic diseases and acute care are among the areas of expertise.

Mr Freeman was speaking on a visit to Birmingham to promote the importance of the European Union to the growing sector.

He was joined by Cure Leukaemia pioneer Professor Charles Craddock, Professor David Adams, pro-vice chancellor at the University of Birmingham and Dr James Wilkie, chief executive of Birmingham Research Park.

Prof Craddock CBE, director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Unit at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, said: “Being part of the EU allows researchers in Birmingham to collaborate with scientists across the globe.

"Remaining as a member of the EU is vital to the continued excellence of medical innovation in Birmingham, supporting jobs in our area and making sure NHS patients get access to the latest life-saving drugs and healthcare technologies.”

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