Thursday 10 January 2018
British pharmaceuticals and life-sciences are in rude health after a stunning year for Britain’s burgeoning gene therapy sector, topped off by a billion-pound investment in a new research centre by Belgian drugmaker UCB, reflecting Britain’s overall pre-eminence as a number one investment destination. Tech investment has also had a bumper year, while more traditional businesses search as Rolls-Royce have pledged to stay and services growth has increased further on the back of no deal planning, because of Brexit.
Ranked against 160 other countries across 15 different categories Forbes has placed the United Kingdom the top country in the world to do business in. For the second year in a row, Britain was found to outclass the opposition thanks to the strength of its workforce, the power of its innovation capacity and the lack of red tape, in spite of being in the EU. The UK was the only country to feature in the top 11 for each category. Click here for the full ranking.
Rolls-Royce chief executive Torsten Muller-Otvos has described the possibility of leaving the UK as a “complete no-go for me” after the iconic carmaker posted record sales for 2018. 4,107 luxury vehicles were sold in 2018, an astonishing 22% increase on the previous year. UK demand has remained consistent at around 10%. “Rolls-Royce belongs to Britain,” added Muller-Otvos, “We are committed to Britain. Rolls-Royce is part of what I would call the British industrial crown jewels.
Britain’s booming biotech industry received £1.6bn in investment during the first eight months of 2018, compared to £1.2bn throughout the whole of 2017. Britain accounts for a quarter of the total investment in Europe. Firms developing cell and gene therapies (aka biotech) number 60 in the UK, only the United States has more.
Belgian drugmaker UCB has made a £1bn commitment over five years to its life-sciences division in the UK. £150-200 will first be spent building a purpose-built research centre alongside a new manufacturing facility and commercial operations hub. Chief executive Jean-Christope Tellier put the decision to invest in the UK down to Britain’s strong science culture.
IHS Markit’s monthly Purchasing Managers’ Index saw a significant rise in UK services output in December. Measuring 51.2 (any figure above 50 denotes an increase) compared to November’s respectable 50.4. IHS Markit put some of the expansion down to no deal preparations.
The UK continues to top Europe’s tech investment charts. Britain saw the biggest windfall of cash through venture capital and IPOs in 2018 with London devouring the majority, 72% out of a total of £2.49bn. The capital is way ahead of its European rivals, receiving around double the amount of capital than the likes of Paris, Stockholm and Berlin. “Regardless of the outcome of Brexit, London will remain open to innovation, talent and investment from all over the world,” Said London’s deputy mayor for business, Rajesh Agrawal.