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New initiative to boost region’s thriving life sciences sector

Press release issued: 10 July 2024

A new initiative to increase the visibility of the South West’s growing life sciences ecosystem has been launched.

South West Life Sciences brings together eight partner organisations with expertise across discovery, development, investment and innovation in the life sciences: Bristol Health Partners, Bristol Trials Centre, GW4, Health Innovation West of England, Invest Bristol & Bath (part of the West of England Combined Authority), Science Creates, South West and Wales Advanced Therapies Network, and the University of Bristol.

It has been set up and is led by the University of Bristol’s Translational Research Hub, who will now work to broaden the geographical scope covered by engaging with organisations in the wider region.

The South West is a region with huge potential for growth and investment. It is home to over 370 life sciences companies, and employs approximately 20,000 people in the sector. The West of England sub region is the third fastest growing life sciences sector in the UK for employment, and its life sciences and technology related ecosystem was valued at £8.1bn in 2022.  

The South West has made some of the UK’s most exciting advances in life sciences - from accelerating life-saving gene therapy research to launching the UK’s most powerful supercomputer. Unlike other regions of the UK, to date the South West has lacked a regional advocacy body and co-ordinated promotion of its life sciences sector. These stories of innovation and collaboration are brought to life on South West Life Sciences’ new website

The initiative aims to support life sciences in the South West by fostering a joined up local life sciences innovation ecosystem and acting as catalyst for its growth through making connections. It will advocate for its partners and the South West’s life sciences so that their voices are heard outside the region by government, industry, investors and international organisations. It is a first step towards establishing an advocacy organisation for the South West, which will increase the visibility of the region’s life sciences ecosystem.

South West Life Sciences has been funded by an existing Wellcome Translational Partnership Award to the University of Bristol.

Professor Jeremy Tavaré, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean for the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at the University of Bristol, said: “Bristol is committed to building research partnerships that help make a positive impact by tackling global health challenges. It is exciting to see the launch of South West Life Sciences that will help drive new collaborations, increased investment and recognition of the excellent science taking place in our region, all with the shared aim of developing innovative treatments for diseases and advancing life sciences for a healthier future.”

Dr Sarah George, Head of the Translational Research Hub at the University of Bristol, added: “We are excited to have brought South West Life Sciences to life with our partners and we are looking forward to working with more organisations in the future. We want to help them, and the region, benefit from the initiative, for example through new collaborations, increased investment and recognition of the excellent science taking place in our region.

“In the long term, we hope to develop South West Life Sciences into an independent organisation providing expanded services and support for its partners.”

To find out more about South West Life Sciences contact

Further information

Bristol Health Partners

Bristol Health Partners is an Academic Health Science Centre. We aim to maximise the region’s health and care research, and to transform the understanding, prevention and treatment of key health problems faced by people who live in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. The organisations involved are part of Bristol Health Partners voluntarily, and we are funded by contributions from our partners.

The GW4 Alliance 

Founded in 2013, GW4 is an alliance of four of the most research-intensive and innovative universities in the UK: Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter. We work with other universities, businesses and civic bodies, acting as the anchor institutions to support a knowledge-intensive economy.

Health Innovation West of England

Health Innovation West of England is based in Bristol and is one of 15 health innovation networks across England, established by NHS England in 2013 to spread innovation at pace and scale.

As the only bodies that connect NHS and academic organisations, the VCSE sector and industry, health innovation networks are catalysts that create the right conditions to facilitate change across whole health and social care economies, with a clear focus on improving outcomes for citizens.

Science Creates

Founded in 2015 by deep tech founders seeking the resources needed to grow their startups, Science Creates is dedicated to fostering a UK-wide Deep Tech ecosystem. Science Creates' mission is to support and empower world-class Deep Tech startups to drive significant improvements in human and planetary health.

Through its four key pillars—Incubators (lab space), Investment (VC), Platform (community, programmes & partnerships), and Foundation (STEM outreach & public engagement)—Science Creates aims to transform novel scientific and engineering breakthroughs into groundbreaking products. By scaling these pillars, Science Creates envisions establishing a national, founder-led ecosystem that nurtures thousands of startups, creating a culture of entrepreneurship within UK academia and leveraging advanced technology to lead the 4th industrial revolution, transforming the UK economy, accelerating global sustainability, and improving the health of millions worldwide.

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