Developing a life sciences superpower – how the General Election will shape support for the medical technology and pharmaceutical sectors


The life sciences industry’s contribution to the UK economy cannot be understated. One in every 121 employed people in the UK work in the sector, which is worth more than £90 billion to the UK economy, and is responsible for world-leading vaccines, robots, medicines and scanners.

Medical technology and pharmaceutical solutions cover almost all medical diagnosis and treatment, and share a mission to improve health outcomes, right the way through from prevention to treatment and aftercare. Medical technology covers everything from syringes and sticking plasters to replacement joints and surgical robotics; with pharmaceuticals ranging from paracetamol and over-the-counter cold and flu powder to the world’s most innovative cell and gene therapies and MRNA vaccines.

Medical technologies and pharmaceuticals hold the promise to support both the health and wealth of the nation, but face a range of barriers to enabling the UK to become a life sciences superpower.

Given the importance of the life sciences sector for the national health and economy, and the need for strong local links between the medical technology and pharmaceutical sectors and their future MPs, PLMR Healthcomms has developed the Clusters of Change: Key Electoral Battlegrounds for the Life Sciences Sector insights report.

This report maps the hotspots of the pharmaceutical and medical technology across the country, linking them to the constituencies being fought in the general election. Using the PLMR Candidates Portal the report paints a picture of the MPs who will be representing constituencies with the largest life sciences footprints after the General Election.

Why this election matters for the life sciences sector

While they have their operational differences, both MedTech and pharma function through similar prisms, sharing objectives around regulation, support for innovation, and better adoption pathways through the NHS.

As such, the outcome for this General Election is particularly important to both, with the elected representatives due to take their places in Parliament for the first time – and there will be a large number of new MPs – due to hold some power over how the life sciences landscape is shaped and supported over the next five years.

It is these incoming Parliamentarians who can advocate and help to deliver better regulation, support better adoption, and help drive the Department of Health and Social Care, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology and the NHS to deliver for patients through better use of the life sciences sector.

The life sciences sector is critical to the long-term prosperity and health of the nation, and it is therefore vital that the incoming Parliamentarians are aware of the impact that they have on their own constituencies and the country as a whole.

Political ambition for the sector

Although both the Conservative and Labour Parties have pledged to make the UK a life sciences superpower, there are differences in how all parties pledge to support the sector. The Conservatives have pledged to drive capital investment; deliver a well-equipped MHRA; support more commercial clinical trials; and deliver a new MedTech pathway that rapidly adopts cost-effective tech.

Labour have promised to launch a new Regulatory Innovation Office; oversee an NHS innovation and adoption Strategy; and support a reduction in the re-evaluation of products shown to be clinically safe and cost effective by NICE.

The smaller parties have also recognised the importance of innovation and life sciences in their approach the NHS; but with both the major parties supporting the sector explicitly, this potential to truly deliver a life sciences superpower is within reach.

To realise that vision, each part of the life sciences sector must ensure that they are building advocates across Parliament, who can promote the benefits of innovation, medical technologies and pharmaceuticals; push Government for action on support for the sector; advocate for policies to ensure there is an appropriate regulatory and adoption landscape to support greater investment, development and deployment of the tools that support the NHS and drive further economic growth.