Wales has 5% of the UK population but 10% of its life sciences workforce. And the UK leads the world in life sciences. If you are looking for a sector with an outstanding track record, but which is still fizzing with opportunity, look no further than the Welsh biotech and pharmaceutical industries.

BTG Group – Market Leader

BTG group alone has a market capitalisation of £1.3 billion. The UK’s biggest biotechnology company, it is based in mid-West Wales. BTG is essentially a speciality pharmaceuticals company developing and commercialising treatments for cancer, critical care and neurological disorders. Its future plans will look for new products to develop and market to hospital specialists.

Research excellence

Obviously, one doesn’t get to this level of pre-eminence in such a research-based sector without excellent academic, scientific and industrial linkages and clusters. In areas like stem cell technology, we have world class academic research and world-class commercialisation. In 2007, Professor Martin Evans of Cardiff University won the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his discoveries in stem cells and DNA – discoveries which have completely revolutionised medicine the world over.

Innovative partnership working – Cardiff University and GE Healthcare

Cardiff University and GE Healthcare recently announced a new partnership in which they would “co-operate on pursuing commercial opportunities, become partners in research proposals for funding by third parties, and work together to share knowledge and expertise of their respective industries.” The UK’s most successful cluster of in-vitro diagnostic companies is in Wales.

Strength in depth throughout the sector

It’s not only BTG, but several hundred other Welsh biotech and pharmaceutical companies that are leading this charge, including Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Quotient Bioresearch, Quay and AMRI. Larval therapy firm, ZooBiotic, now dominates the world market in such products (having been the first spin-out from an NHS Trust). The European Headquarters of Biomet, the global leader in the orthopaedics market, is in Bridgend.

Welsh Government support

The market looks even stronger since a new £100m Life Sciences Investment Fund was announced (March 2012) to improve access to finance and further ease the path from innovation to profit.

It’s a track record to be proud of, and a future to invest in.