Healthcare and life sciences

The UK has a globally unique health and life sciences ecosystem. Our track record of scientific breakthroughs is driving the next generation of life-changing treatments, technologies and services. We offer a national research and evidence gathering platform with unique data and clinical insights in our National Health Service (NHS).

Rapid response to COVID-19

UK researchers are at the forefront of COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutics development. Due to the well-established and interconnected healthcare and research system of the UK life sciences community, it was possible to respond rapidly and pool together resources from the NHS with academia and industry.

Our history of heavy investment in life sciences allowed further resources to be directed to COVID-19 research and support manufacturers and researchers developing treatments.


There are global life sciences clusters connecting investors with customers, collaborators, supply chains, and innovation partners. The UK has more medical products in development than any other country in Europe. This generates a turnover of £74bn and exports of £30bn.

World-leading subsectors

The UK life sciences ecosystem is a dynamic space for bold, high-risk scientific research and application in medicine.

Download our factsheets for more information on investing in:

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life science companies


people employed in life sciences


for life sciences research in the G7 by citation impact


R&D funding pledged over the next ten years


people employed in AI and digital health


people served by the NHS

Research and development

The UK is at the forefront of global scientific exploration, invention and innovation. The future of the already highly productive science base is secured by a commitment to increase R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP by 2027. UK researchers and institutions have pioneered major scientific breakthroughs – from the discovery of penicillin and the structure of DNA to advancements in neuroscience and medical imaging, and developments in stem cells and in vitro fertilisation.

Government commitment

The UK has a long-term industrial strategy providing billions of pounds of funding to deliver the next generation of life changing treatments and technologies. A Grand Challenge mission, (which brings government, industry and organisations together to tackle problems), will transform the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases by 2030.

The right environment

The UK offers leading-edge research and innovation platforms to test, bring to market and commercialise the next generation of discoveries. It is one of the world’s easiest places to do business, and offers one of the best tax environments for R&D.

Leading edge technology

The UK had one in four of the top 100 companies in the 2018 Global Digital Health 100. It has grown Europe’s leading cluster for cell and gene therapies and continues to build national infrastructure for advanced therapies. The NHS is the first national healthcare system to introduce genomics into mainstream medicine.

AstraZeneca and University of Oxford landmark partnership to deliver COVID-19 vaccine globally

Funded by a £65.5m grant from UK government and led by the Jenner Institute University of Oxford, and the Oxford Vaccine Group, researchers are working at an unprecedented pace to advance into late-stage clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccine, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine. In collaboration with multiple study sites across the UK, the phase I trial in healthy adult volunteers began in April, with more than 1,000 immunisations completed. The next study will enrol up to 10,260 adults and children and will involve several partner institutions across the country. The landmark partnership with AstraZeneca for the commercialisation and manufacturing of their potential vaccine will enable rapid vaccination around the world if the candidate proves to be effective. AstraZeneca announced it has an overall supply capacity of more than 2 billion doses per year beginning first deliveries in September 2020, enabling large-scale distribution globally.

Find out more

Why choose UK life sciences

Learn more about why companies choose UK life sciences.

Download the Choose UK Life Sciences brochure (PDF)


A journey through the UK life sciences ecosystem.

Choose UK Life Sciences (YouTube)

Next steps

Whether you’re looking for a supplier or starting a business in the UK, we can help. Get in touch with us for simple, straightforward help and advice on how to do business in the UK.