Select Committee on Science and Technology – Oral Evidence – Science and Technology and the Industrial Strategy
Please see below the following contribution from Professor Robert Allison given as part of the oral evidence session for the Science and Technology Committee’s investigation into the Industrial Strategy:
Professor Robert Allison:
If you look at the very significant changes that have occurred recently in the structure of the pharmaceutical industry and medical technologies—it is not my area of expertise but we have the EPSRC doctoral training centre in bioengineering on our campus—the real opportunities, such as the emerging technologies and the emerging next-generation drugs, are not necessarily going to be delivered by the big conglomerates. It is going to be a very different model involving SMEs which conglomerate and benefit from being next to a partner and, in particular, if they are working at high levels of technology readiness, being located in an environment where fundamental R&D is going on at low TRA levels which can feed into that.
Biotechnology, medical technologies and, to some degree, pharmaceuticals are really good examples of where we could get that further up the agenda. I will give you a specific example. This comes back to the point about getting down to the nitty-gritty. We all know and read in the press about producing heart valves or producing cartilage. That is fine if you are doing it in an R&D low-technology-readiness environment where it is proving you can do it. Producing heart valves time and again—on an industrial scale—where cardiovascular surgeons can prescribe them as part of medical intervention, no one has grasped. No one is doing that, at the moment, anywhere in the world. That has to be an area where I would have thought this country could move in and make very significant advances. It is the link between what this strategy is all about—industry and technology—and aspects of medicine where we already lead the world. That is another very good example of something that is, perhaps, not in here that could come to the fore when the Green Paper turns into a White Paper.