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Wales could gain hundreds of new jobs with increased investment in life sciences

Wales stands to benefit from a high-quality jobs and growth bonanza over the next decade in its already healthy life sciences sector, according to new research.

Hundreds of extra jobs and tens of millions of pounds of growth would be added to the region if increases in life science research and development rise in line with government targets, according to research conducted by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).

Specifically, around 400 (415) extra well-paid, skilled jobs would be created for Wales with the added R&D, along with more than £30m (£31m) of extra growth, in 2027 alone.

Wales is predicted to outdo Northern Ireland and the South West in terms of jobs and growth, with Northern Ireland predicted to generate £23m of added growth and around 300 extra jobs and the South West predicted to generate £30m of added growth and just under 400 extra jobs.

Much of the extra growth for Wales would likely come from established “hotspots” for investment such as Rhymney, Cardiff and Swansea, where academics from Cardiff and Swansea Universities have a good track record of collaborating with the pharmaceutical industry on pioneering research.

The life sciences sector is made up of industries like food science, plus plant and veterinary science. But the pharmaceutical industry is the single biggest contributor.

The Wales figures are projected on the basis that R&D in the region’s life sciences sector will jump from £23m in 2015 to £42m in 2027.

The UK Government set out in the Budget last year that it would commit to increasing its investment in R&D to 2.4 per cent of Gross Domestic Product by 2027, to help the UK to catch up with the R&D spending of the most advanced economies like Japan, Germany and the United States.

In time, the investment could rise to 3 per cent of GDP, which the ABPI research shows if met by 2027 would create an even greater boom in jobs.

In this scenario, more than 750 extra high quality jobs will be created in Wales (756), with a sizeable £56m of growth added to region.

On a nationwide level, the ABPI research suggests that the extra R&D investment in the pharmaceutical sector brought about by the 2.4 per cent GDP target would create tens of thousands of jobs in the UK overall in 2027 (24,000) and boost growth by nearly £1.8bn.

If R&D investment rises to 3 per cent, the gains will be even more bountiful, with the pharmaceutical sector creating almost 44,000 jobs, bringing in well over £3bn for the UK economy – at £3.27bn.

Dr Richard Greville, Director of ABPI Cymru Wales said:

“This research underlines why increasing the amount that government and industry spends on innovation is so important. Industries like pharmaceuticals have the potential to generate the jobs of tomorrow, as well as securing the thousands of jobs they provide in Wales today.

“But it’s not just about jobs and the economy. Our scientists work hand-in-hand with the NHS to provide medicines which save and improve millions of lives in this country, around the world and in communities in this region.

“By investing in the life sciences like pharmaceuticals we can be part of the battle against illnesses that continue to blight so many lives – while also helping to deliver jobs and prosperity in regions like Wales and across Britain.”