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Leading-edge healthcare

An overview of government's challenge to industry and research to develop and manufacture new medicines and digital health products and technologies.


Leading-edge healthcare

What is the leading-edge healthcare challenge?

Individual patients need different types of medicines and treatments depending on their disease or condition. There is a big challenge for industry in manufacturing these various medicines and getting them to the patient at the right time.

While life sciences manufacturing accounts for 8.9% of the UK’s manufacturing GVA – of which 80% is for pharmaceuticals - exports and productivity have been declining.

Improving how we develop and manufacture medicines and other healthcare products, including digital technologies, will create better experiences and outcomes for patients and grow the UK’s economy.

The government will invest in new facilities and fund research and innovation projects that speed up the development and manufacture of new medicines such as advanced therapies for the benefit of patients.

What’s the investment?

There will be a £181 million investment from government to accelerate the development and patient access to new medicines and treatments. This includes new digital health products and technologies.

What are the opportunities?

Opportunities will be available to UK-based researchers and businesses.

Funding will be invested in:

Digital health technology catalyst funding

The catalyst is a £35 million fund that will enable UK businesses to develop new digital technology products through a series of competitions. These should improve health and wellbeing, improve care and manage costs.

Some of the projects to get funding include a digital game with hand controller to help rehabilitate patients with neurological impairments and a virtual reality platform for surgical training.

Advanced therapies treatment centres

Through a £21 million investment we will fund 3 advanced therapies treatment centres that will improve UK capabilities to manufacture and use advanced therapies with large numbers of patients.

They will be collaborations between hospitals, therapeutics development businesses and supply chains and be based across the north of England and Scotland, Manchester and Midlands and Wales.

Medicines manufacturing CR&D funding

UK businesses can get funding through competitions for research and innovation projects that improve and commercialise medicines manufacturing, scale up production and lower costs.

Projects funded so far include the development of a novel gene-therapy manufacturing platform to treat disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. 

Viral vector production funding

We will fund projects to drive UK capacity for making viral vectors for use in the treatment of human disease or conditions. Projects funded so far are led by Oxford Biomedica in Oxford and Cobra Biologics in Keele, Staffordshire.

Funded projects


FundamentalVR: an immersive surgical training platform

Using virtual reality to advance the teaching of surgery, FundamentalVR’s training platform simulates a real-life operation to allow students to practice procedures and improve their confidence.


Neurofenix: gamification to support rehabilitation

Neurofenix and Brunel University London are developing a digital game with handheld control for patients with neurological impairments. Patients can use this as part of their rehabilitation to practice movements.


MeiraGTx: a novel way of manufacturing gene therapies

MeiraGTx is looking at the potential for new and novel gene therapies. It is using a fully synthetic manufacturing process to improve purity, speed and scale up production of these important therapies.