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PM marks out life sciences research as UK priority

Investing in innovation in the life sciences and making better use of NHS data should be top of the national research agenda, according to prime minister David Cameron.

In a speech at the Global Health Policy summit in London on 1 August, Cameron said that in order to make the most of research, the UK needs to change the way it works.

“That means open innovation, more collaboration with universities and start-ups and a geater emphasis on data analytics,” he said.

He added that Britain needs to harnass the potential of the “incredible knowledge base” provided by 60 million patient records. As a step towards this, the government is carrying out a consultation on changing the NHS constitution so the use of patient data in research is on an opt-out basis.

In order to encourage innovation and reward effective products, the government will begin pricing products based on their value to the customer, rather than their actual costs.

It is also creating a patent box, to give companies better tax rates on profits from patented discoveries. When GlaxoSmithKline announced £500 million investment in the UK in March, chief executive Andrew Witty said the scheme had “transformed” the way GSK viewed the country in terms of new investments.

Cameron’s speech came on the same day as the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee published a report on how the government should implement its transparency agenda—its pledge to make data more accessible.

Margaret Hodge, the committee’s Labour chairwoman, said: “It is simply not good enough to dump large quantities of raw data into the public domain. It must be accessible, relevant and easy for us all to understand.”

The report said that the differences between data released by public bodies should be addressed, and stressed the need to consider the costs of releasing such data.