GUEST BLOG BY HILDA MWANGI, ESQ., MBA. Vice Consul- Life Sciences, Department for International Trade, British Consulate General, Los Angeles
On 12 September, the UK’s Department for International Trade and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLC hosted a half-day seminar on the UK’s Clinical Research offer. The event, which attracted clinical research directors from local San Diego and Orange County companies, was part of a national roadshow, with an East Coast and West Coast leg. The West Coast seminars featured speakers from England, Wales, and Scotland, and were held in Minneapolis, MN, San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles, CA. The seminar also featured Hilda Mwangi, Vice Consul for Life Sciences, based out of the UK’s Government Office in San Diego.
The seminar covered tax incentives aimed at innovative and research-oriented UK companies, the benefits of having a centralized national healthcare system, and the support services available to companies looking to run trials in the UK.
Did you know: the UK offers R&D tax credits? In addition to an increasingly competitive tax rate (currently 19%, soon to be 17% in 2020, with Northern Ireland matching Ireland’s 12.5% rate in 2018), the UK offers enticing R&D rebates to SME and large companies. The benefits range from 28-44% depending on the size and profitability of the company. The credit can be claimed against total R&D spend which can include staff cost, consumables, and clinical trial costs. Similarly, UK companies which generate IP in the UK, and realize global profits from that IP, are eligible for a 10% corporate tax rate, known as Patent Box.
In addition to tax incentives, the UK also offers grants and opportunities to UK companies engaging in innovative research or looking to advance innovative technology or products. Recently, the UK published the Life Science Industrial Strategy, a comprehensive review of the Life Science sector, led by Sir John Bell. The report outlined challenge areas, funding opportunities, and recommendations on how to meet those challenges. Most notably, the UK Government announced that it would fund £146M over to support research and innovation, a clear signal of the Government’s continued support of and commitment to research excellence. In the next few months, industry and government will set out and agree upon a “sector deal” on how to meet the goals and challenges set out in the Industrial Strategy. In the meantime, companies with UK subsidiaries can take part in the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund as well as other grants offered on the InnovateUK and Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) websites. To learn more about these incentives, research funding, or to find out if you’re eligible for them, please contact Ms. Mwangi.
Not one to shy from addressing the “elephant in the room,” Ms. Mwangi also addressed the issue of Brexit stating that while the impact of Brexit is still unfolding, with some ripples being felt in certain industries, the clinical research landscape and the UK’s offer for clinical trials remains largely insulated and as strong as ever. Brexit does not change the NHS or the benefits it affords its patients, clinicians, or the larger research community. Among these benefits are: 1) access to patient data and recruitment via tools such as Farsite, 2) consistency across the UK, resulting in faster set-up times, 3) access to systematized functions such as the national costing template, and 4) access to dedicated research support facilities and services. Ms. Mwangi also highlighted the UK Biobank, a great resource of biosamples collected from over 500,000 patients for future studies. The UK is also leading the way in the area of real-world, in-time clinical trials. Electronic Health Record-enabled trials help clinicians and investigators use city-wide linked EHRs to monitor patient progress. The UK’s Salford Lung Study is an example of the UK’s capabilities in running a real-world clinical trial, which is enabled and made easier by its centralized NHS system.
The bulk of the presentation was dedicated towards clinical research, where the representatives from Wales, England, and Scotland outlined their key research support services which included early engagement and national feasibility support, Site selection, national oversight of clinical research set-up, and connections to industry alliances and strategic partnerships through which companies can leverage both funding and expertise. The UK also offers a diverse demographic of patient subjects and is active in every major disease area, with unique focus on oncology, healthy ageing, artificial intelligence, and neurological diseases. (FYI: The UK’s Dementia Discovery Fund will be in San Diego on November 14th at JLabs, presenting on funding opportunities.)What is key about these clinical research support services is that in addition to providing US companies with on the ground support, companies can leverage decades of experience and expertise, while de-risking their clinical trials process, and running their trials on time and on budget. Ms. Mwangi also provided attendees with a list of CRO companies which specialize in specific research areas, all of which have been vetted and have a proven record of success in clinical trials.
To say the least, the event was a big success as was evidenced by the burgeoning conversations afterwards. Ms. Mwangi and DIT look forward to holding this event next year. In the meantime, if you have any questions about any of the elements mentioned above, or if you’d like to connect with any of the clinical research specialists, please feel free to reach out to her at: Hilda.Mwangi@mobile.trade.gov.uk.
The UK’s Department for International Trade is the UK’s commercial development department charged with providing free and confidential services to US companies looking to invest into the UK. Conversely, they also provide a subsidized service to UK companies exporting globally. In the US, DIT is located in nine offices, including Los Angeles. Ms. Mwangi is the sole DIT representative in San Diego, with a focus on Life Sciences. She along with her colleagues in Los Angeles oversee the south-west US. For more information on how DIT can help you grow and expand your business in the UK, contact Ms. Mwangi at the email above.