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UK must prioritise $17bn medtech sector in face of Brexit, new report urges

Published on 03/05/17 at 09:54am

A new report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) has highlighted the threat Brexit poses to the $17 billion UK medical technology sector, calling on industry to keep pace with EU regulation and funding in order to maintain jobs and investment.

In the time since the announcement of a snap general election in the UK, a number of life sciences organisations have published reports which stress the significance of the nation’s vote and its impact on the future of the industry, including the UK BioIndustry Association this week, and the ABPI last week. Both focus on the imperative of governmental cooperation with the industry and the strength of a fully-supported NHS.

The report Medical Devices & CE Marking –the Impact of Brexit outlines three key points: firstly, it is recommended that the government work with med tech firms to come to a compliancy agreement with the EU, supported by parallel policies, in order to secure long term investment and attract SMEs to the country.

Secondly, the report encourages a close relationship between the NHS and UK industry, based on any relevant post-Brexit arrangements, to maintain its influential power over EU regulation in the future. Lastly, it is advised that the current imbalance in EU research funding between small start-ups and large pharmaceutical companies is addressed.

 “The UK Government must ensure that the Med Tech industry is high on its priority list as it prepares to negotiate the country’s departure from the EU,” Dr Helen Meese, Head of Healthcare at IME, explained. “Not only does this industry make a huge contribution to domestic and international healthcare ― from the design of artificial joints and organs through to the production of aids for independent living ― the sector is also worth £17 billion to the UK economy and supports 90,000 jobs. Leaving the EU without the UK medical technology industry suffering considerable long-term damage, particularly for small businesses, will be a huge challenge.

“As part of the UK’s Brexit deal, it is vital that the UK is able to maintain continuity with the EU CE certification processes, and enable UK manufacturers to export medical devices into the €100 billion European Med Tech market,” she continued. “Our Government should not forget to use the purchasing power of the NHS to help attract new business into the sector and retain influence over future European regulation. The Government also needs to outline exactly how UK Research and Innovation bodies such as InnovateUK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council will address the more than €1 billion a year funding short-fall from what the UK currently receives from the European Research Council.”

Matt Fellows

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