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Latest figures show how Wales is fuelling the UK’s life sciences vision 

The importance of Wales to the UK life sciences sector has been highlighted in two sets of recent figures that demonstrate strong performance in key aspects of life sciences businesses in Wales. 

Figures from the Office for Life Sciences (OLS), released on 01 December 2022, which cover data up to the end of the financial year in 2021, demonstrate strong growth in income and employment for life sciences businesses in Wales. 

Meanwhile, the latest export figures for Wales reveal the growing global influence of Welsh life sciences. The figures, published on 19 December 2022, and including data up to the third quarter of 2022, show significant growth in exports for the life sciences industry. 

Highlights: 

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·       The OLS figures show income growth of Welsh life sciences businesses outperformed that of businesses in the rest of the UK. The industry generated £2.62 billion in turnover in Wales – a 12.1% rise on the previous year – while turnover for life sciences businesses across the UK as a whole grew by 9%. 

·       The number of people employed in the industry in Wales also grew by 1.9%, continuing a trend of steady growth in employment figures, and keeping pace with the employment growth figures seen in the rest of the UK. 

·       The number of life sciences businesses operating in Wales held firm, with a slight increase of 0.4%, having seen drops in the number of businesses in previous years. 

·       The latest export figures show that ‘Medicinal and pharmaceutical products are in the top 5 products being exported from Wales. With a yearly value of £1.1 billion, the latest pharmaceutical exports were up over 30%, compared to the previous period. 

Cari-Anne Quinn, Chief Executive Officer of Life Sciences Hub Wales, commented: 

“I was pleased but unsurprised to see the latest figures illustrating the strength of the life sciences sector in Wales. Over the last number of years, Welsh Government has proactively supported industry growth and created an environment where life sciences businesses can thrive.  

As evidenced by the united response to Covid-19, we’ve also seen a real coming together of the industry, with businesses and health and social care providers working together more effectively than ever to find solutions to real health and care challenges. This has been a really positive thing for patients and industry alike, and we at Life Sciences Hub Wales have been pleased to play a part in that.  

I believe, given the exciting developments we saw in 2022, including large multinationals growing in Wales and many new and innovative businesses launching, we’ll see even stronger evidence of the power of Welsh life sciences in the coming years.” 

Wales has seen significant growth in the sector from companies such as QuidelOrtho, a global organisation producing innovative diagnostic healthcare products with manufacturing facilities in Pencoed, and BBI, who are based in Crumlin and provide immunoassay reagents, development, and manufacturing services to clients worldwide. Global medical technology company Siemens Healthineers also recently announced plans to upgrade its facility in Llanberis, along with the creation of 100 high-quality jobs, with Welsh Government support. 

Vaughan Gething MS, Minister for Economy, said: 

“Our life sciences sector is a vitally important part of the Welsh economy. The Welsh Government has been determined to support the sector to grow and thrive, and these latest results demonstrate that support is truly bearing fruit. 

“Not only are our life sciences companies creating and providing high-quality jobs for people across Wales, but they’re developing products and services that tackle the problems we face as a society today. This is crucial as we continue to recover from the Covid pandemic, enabling people to live healthier and productive lives.”  

One success story in Wales – CellPath – specialises in the manufacturing and worldwide supply of consumables, equipment, and services to the cellular pathology sector. The company was incorporated in 1990, and operates out of its headquarters in Newtown, Powys. Since that time, it has grown substantially into a thriving company with a multi-million-pound turnover. Paul Webber, Director says:  

“Over the last few years, we’ve been experiencing significant year-on-year growth, driven from both our sales in the UK and overseas. Being based in mid-Wales alongside our team of territory managers throughout the UK allows us to develop a close relationship with universities and the NHS, and allows us the opportunity to have a fantastically strong, experienced, and loyal local workforce. Added to that, the innovation support we’ve received from the Welsh Government has undoubtedly allowed us to implement our growth plans and experience the upshift we’re currently seeing.” 

Meanwhile, Llusern Scientific, which specialises in affordable, portable, easy-to-use molecular diagnostics, is one of a raft of new life sciences companies recently launched in Wales. Their CEO Emma Hayhurst says:  

 “We couldn’t have imagined launching our business anywhere else. Not only are we surrounded by lots of other new innovators, but the supportive environment for spinning out a business has been invaluable. We’ve had support to develop our website, gather our clinical data, showcase our product in the UK and internationally, develop links with customers and open our first funding round.”  

As well as the recent figures, the significance of Wales’ life science sector was also highlighted late last year by the UK Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch in a visit to Wales. During the visit, the Trade Secretary described Wales as both “critical to our life sciences sector” and “fuelling the UK’s position as a science superpower”.  

Life sciences businesses operating in Wales (or considering doing so) can access a range of support from Life Sciences Hub Wales. From tailored innovation and project support to introductions and networking opportunities, contact their expert team to find out what’s on offer at https://lshubwales.com/innovation-enquiry-form  

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