February 2021 saw the global heads of R&D at JPG member companies convene with a UK-Japan Life Sciences R&D Summit hosted by Professor Sir John Bell and Lord James Bethell, Minister for Innovation. The group was joined by leading figures in UK research:

  • Sir Paul Nurse, Chief Executive and Director of the Francis Crick Institute, presented the latest research taking place there, with a focus on Cell & Gene therapy
  • Dr Andy Roddam, CEO of Our Future Health, addressed the huge potential to make the UK the home of data-driven life sciences research, innovation and development
  • Professor Martin Landray Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Oxford University, presented the opportunities for innovative population health trials
  • Dr June Raine, Chief Executive of the MHRA set out her vision for the regulator as it enters a new era following EU Exit

The meeting was conceived and organised through a collaboration between the Office for Life Sciences (OLS), the Department for International Trade (DIT) and the Japanese Pharmaceutical Group (JPG). The goal was to showcase scientific and research excellence in the UK and address global HQ’s concerns that have resulted from EU exit. The meeting also addressed future pandemic preparedness. This the first time that a group of Japanese R&D leaders have come together in a meeting of this nature with the UK Government.

Commenting on the meeting, Jon Neal, Chair of the JPG, said, ‘I was delighted that we were able to bring such a senior group of research leaders together – this meeting has helped reinforce the important opportunities that exist in the UK for discovery research, partnerships and clinical development. The meeting covered a range of key industry priorities, including health data, innovative trial design and future pandemic preparedness, and it was fascinating to observe the dialogue and gain insights on the factors these senior decision makers take into account when deciding where to place research & development investments. If the UK’s R&D strengths rise up the agenda in our R&D HQs in Japan and / or the US, then that can only be a good thing’.

Lord Bethell, Minister for Innovation noted ‘I had the pleasure of hosting a roundtable with global heads of R&D from the Japanese biopharma industry, giving us the opportunity to have full and frank conversation on how we can forge stronger partnerships with these companies to capitalise on the UK’s contribution to life sciences. We convened some outstanding voices from the UK sector, Paul Nurse, Director of the Crick Institute, Andy Roddam from Our Future Health, Martin Landray from Oxford, and June Raine, CEO of MHRA, who showed off our capabilities. Our conversations also turned to the future, asking ourselves how, together with industry, we can be better prepared for future pandemics. Most importantly, myself and UK Government colleagues had the chance to hear form Japanese leaders about what matters to them when it comes R&D in the UK.’

JPG will be aiming to promote ongoing dialogue of this nature and following up recommendations that were put forward at the meeting.

  • The JPG is the voice of the Japanese life sciences industry in the UK - made up of eleven companies whose global HQs are based in Japan
  • JPG companies are investing
    • in therapeutic innovation in NHS disease priorities – for example cardiovascular diseases, dementia, oncology, and antibiotic discovery research
    • in gene therapy
    • in digital technology and AI
    • in academic, research charity and biotech partnerships and collaborations, further developing innovations through the world class science base opportunities in the UK.
  • Our members are a diverse group: from global top 10 pharma, through to specialised companies whose growth is accelerating in the UK.
  • At present our members employ a total of 2700 people across European HQs that are based here, as well as UK affiliates. We are however seeing roles and functions re-locate to other countries as a result of Brexit.
  • JPG is also the champion of UK life sciences in Japan – the UK academic and biotech ecosystem has a positive reputation for early phase research in global HQs. We wish to partner with Government to ensure ‘safe passage’ of the reputation of the UK life science and commercial environments through Brexit and beyond.