Opportunity: Accelerating Detection of Disease (Life Sciences Sector Deal)


Announced as part of the Life Sciences sector deal, this challenge will build a study of c.100,000 healthy people in its first four years to develop new diagnostic tests using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. The programme will then grow to include more than 1 million people through further funding arrangements and will be the first of its kind in a national health programme.

  • life-saving early disease detection technology to be developed by new partnership between government and industry using artificial intelligence (AI) to develop the next generation of treatments, including a first-of-its-kind national health programme
  • the second Life Sciences Sector Deal, with industry investment from 10 companies, will support healthcare innovation and back businesses to create high-paid, high-quality jobs as part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy
  • the deal signals a vote of confidence in UK industry, with global biopharmaceutical company UCB investing around £1 billion in research and development, including in a new state-of-the-art facility

Tens of thousands of lives could be saved by pioneering research to detect deadly diseases before symptoms even appear, thanks to a new collaboration between the government and the Life Sciences Industry. The deal will also announce that global biopharmaceutical company UCB is investing £1 billion in research and development, including in a new state-of-the-art facility, continuing the UK’s reputation as a world leading base for global life sciences research and industry.

The programme, backed by up to £79 million of government funding, will study 5 million healthy people to develop new diagnostic tests using AI and is part of the government’s Life Science’s Sector Deal 2, announced today by Businesses Secretary Greg Clark and Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

The deal, which brings together 10 companies and is backed by wide range of organisations from across the sector, includes more than £1.3 billion of investment between the public and private sectors. It ensures the UK remains in pole position in the treatments of today, while creating the industries and treatments of the future such as genomics and AI-powered diagnosis.

The programme – Accelerating Detection of Disease – will be led by Professor Sir John Bell and brings together the NHS, industry and leading charities including Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation and Alzheimer’s Research UK. It will be the largest ever study of its kind collecting such a range of data from healthy volunteers over years. This will help deliver the Early Diagnosis Mission — a key part of the Industrial Strategy’s AI and Data Grand Challenge. Businesses will be able to access this funding through UKRI managed competitions.

Researchers will study how the group’s health changes, identifying common characteristics to understand how and why diseases develop. The ambition is to empower everyone to understand their risk of developing diseases and take steps to remain healthy for longer. The project will attract investment from global life science companies seeking to develop new diagnostic tools and treatments.

The new Life Sciences Sector Deal further strengthens the UK’s world-leading capabilities in the likes of genomic science, Big Data assets and gene and cell therapies, ensuring we are at the forefront of new industries in areas such as genomics and AI-driven diagnostics.

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