Research and development support for healthcare and pharma

The UK’s research infrastructure is sophisticated and well-developed. Many businesses have their own R&D operations.

Research infrastructure

The UK’s pre-clinical and clinical trials network lets companies scale up quickly. It has a competitive and collaborative research base, healthcare data assets and significant capabilities in clinical research and working with the National Health Service (NHS).

Catapult network

The Catapult Network has 9 innovation centres across 40 locations in the UK. In each centre, businesses, scientists, technical specialists and engineers work together on late-stage research and development.

Cell & Gene Therapy catapults are located in Edinburgh and the Medicines Discovery catapults are in Cheshire and Manchester.

Clinical trials

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) invests over £1 billion each year in research centres and facilities in leading universities and hospitals, focused on translational research and delivery of early-phase studies. The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) is the research delivery arm of the NHS.

Major UK research organisations 

Find specific projects and detailed information on the work of research organisations on the websites of:

Research resources

Konfer is an online tool that uses smart matching technology to connect UK universities and businesses.

UK Research and Innovation’s Gateway to Research website gives information on current and past UK research projects, including publications, outcomes and contacts.

Read more on the UK’s R&D support and find links that can help you further your research in our guide to research and collaboration in the UK .

Tax relief for innovative healthcare and pharma companies

The UK tax system provides strong backing for healthcare and pharma entrepreneurs and their investors.

R&D tax reliefs for innovative healthcare and pharma companies

To qualify for R&D tax relief support, an overseas company must have a limited business in the UK.

You can claim corporation tax relief if you are working on an innovative project in science and technology that meets the UK government’s definition of  (R&D).

There are 2 main types of R&D tax reliefs:

  • small and medium enterprise (SME) R&D relief, for companies with less than 500 staff
  • R&D) expenditure credit, for larger companies

Get guidance on R&D tax relief on GOV.UK

The Enterprise Investment Scheme  and the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme are UK government schemes that help you if you’re a younger, higher-risk businesses raising finance. They offer generous tax reliefs of between 30% to 50%.

Find out more about the Enterprise Investment Scheme (and the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme on GOV.UK.

Private equity and venture capital

Alongside generous government support and tax relief, biopharmaceutical companies can access private finance from the business setup and R&D stage with seed funding, through to clinical trials and regulatory approval with series funding.

With a mature and highly sophisticated capital market, the UK is both a leading destination and source of capital investment for companies across the scale spectrum.

The UK is the second biggest global hub for private equity and venture capital after the US.

Funding opportunities for healthcare and pharma companies

Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation, the UK’s national innovation agency. Find  funding opportunities on the Innovate UK website.

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) is one of the largest funders of clinical and health research. All funding programmes are accessible to academic or NHS organisations. You can also access funds as a small or medium enterprise through collaboration with these bodies. Find funding opportunities on the NIHR website.

Wellcome Trust is an independent charitable foundation. The trust supports new discoveries in science and health, with a focus on climate change and health, infectious diseases and mental health. Find funding opportunities on the Wellcome Trust website.

Next steps

Find out about funding and incentives for research and development in our guide to incentives and funding in the UK.

Get advice on setting up your research-focused tech business in the UK from UK experts – find their contact details on the UK Investment Support Directory.

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