Life sciences innovation emerges as key area of UK-Israel collaboration – The Jerusalem Post

Life sciences innovation emerges as key area of UK-Israel collaboration – The Jerusalem Post

UK Israel Tech Hub healthcare innovation manager, British Ambassador to Israel and NHSA officials. (photo credit: Courtesy)

British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca signed an agreement on Monday with the Ministry of Economy to increase its investments in Israeli biomedical innovation and research.

As the 71-year-old UK National Health Service (NHS) strives to continue delivering cutting-edge care to its patients and communities today, Israel’s leading role in the development of biotechnology, Big Data analytics and artificial intelligence technologies has made it an ideal partner.

Responsible for more than 60 million patients, the NHS is the largest healthcare provider worldwide.

“We are seeing more and more interest from the two countries than ever before,” Dr. Samuel Cronin, UK Israel Tech Hub healthcare innovation manager, told The Jerusalem Post on the sidelines of the MIXiii-Biomed 2019 conference taking place this week in Tel Aviv.

“There is a lot of interest from the British side to engage with Israel, aware of the opportunities of Israeli innovation. We no longer need to sell the start-up nation story. On the other side, we’re seeing a lot of interest from the Israeli companies going more and more toward the UK.”

AstraZeneca will present the Israeli government with a list of institutions and companies it is considering investing in or increasing its existing investment by November. The company added that it will also endeavor to increase clinical collaborations with Israeli companies, health service providers and academic bodies.

Attending the three-day conference are 11 leading British healthcare organizations, currently collaborating with the British Embassy in Israel to build new innovation partnerships with Israeli industry.

At last year’s conference, Britain’s Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA) signed a memorandum of understanding with British Ambassador to Israel David Quarrey, aiming to help Israeli health technologies access the UK’s healthcare industries.

The NHSA – a partnership established by eight leading universities, eight NHS Hospital Trusts and four Academic Health Science Networks – provides access to northern England’s health network, caring for 16 million British citizens and home to over 1,000 medical companies.

Representatives returned to Tel Aviv again this week to highlight opportunities outside of London for Israeli companies.

“Everyone understands that there is an incredibly high innovation quotient in Israel, and the creativity and innovative power of Israel is well-known in quite a small market,” Keith Miller, NHSA Head of Corporate Engagement, told the Post.

“Countries like the UK and the US would love to take some of that innovation out and have it applied to our patient populations for their good, and see it scale. It’s not always easy to get into the NHS, but if we can get to work with these companies early, we can help them structure their programs better.”

Seeking to attract Israeli companies to carry out clinical trials in the UK and attending the conference for the first time, the government-funded National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network supports rapid study set-up and patient recruitment into all phases of clinical research studies.

The NIHR, which invests £1 billion ($1.29b.) into research annually, has recruited over three million patients into NHS clinical studies over the last five years.

“Israel is an emerging market and we’re currently doing a big push to support medical device trials ahead of changes to regulations that will come into effect in the next few years,” said Theo Christie, business development manager at NIHR Clinical Research Network.

“We know that Israel, and Tel Aviv especially, has a huge med-tech and IVD community, so we’re looking to try and find as many companies as we can, explain why they should consider doing their research in the UK and offer them support to advance their studies.”

British-Israeli cooperation stretches far beyond the field of medicine, with Britain representing Israel’s leading export destination within the EU. Bilateral trade has repeatedly broken records in recent years, reaching $7.2b. in 2016, $9.1b. in 2017 and approximately $11b. in 2018.

Approximately 1,600 life sciences companies are currently active in Israel, employing more than 83,000 workers, according to the Israel Advanced Technology Industries (IATI) 2019 Israeli Life Sciences Report published this week.

The life science industry secured a record $1.5b. in funding in 2018, a 25% increase since 2017, with some $619m. in investments last year coming from local investors.

Four of the 10 largest hi-tech acquisitions in Israel last year were life sciences companies, including the purchase of Mazor Robotics by Medtronic in a $1.64b. deal, the largest Israeli life sciences acquisition to date.

Last year, however, brought mixed news for Israel pharmaceutical and medical equipment exporters. While medical equipment exports exceeded $2b. for the first time in a decade, pharmaceutical exports fell by more than 22%, from an all-time annual high of $7.5b. to a decade low of $5.8b.

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