In this Opinion Piece Dr Nik Kotecha OBE, Chairman of Morningside Pharmaceuticals, talks about why he chose to set up our company in the Midlands and what the future might hold for the region’s Life Sciences, Med-Tech and Health Sectors.
“Over 30 years ago my company, Morningside Pharmaceuticals, was established in a home garage. The business grew rapidly and we soon required a central location to setup a distribution hub with great transport links, as we developed a sophisticated UK and international supply chain.
The location we chose was Loughborough, in the East Midlands, where there is a thriving Life Sciences Sector. There is an Innovation Enterprise Zone located in the town, which includes Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park (LUSEP) and the Charnwood Campus, which is also the first UK Life Sciences Opportunity Zone.
We also saw great opportunities in being located in the Midlands region as a whole, which today has an economy worth more than £222 billion. And has become a hub for the Health, Med-Tech and Life Sciences Sectors. In the Life Sciences Sector alone there are about 1,100 businesses producing an annual turnover of £9.5bn (2019), and employing almost 33,000 people in a wide range of highly skilled jobs.
The Midlands has many world-leading strengths in these three areas; but there has been a clear need to connect them together. The Midlands Engine partnership, for example, has worked closely with industry, academia, the Health Sector and Public Sector partners to establish Midlands Engine Health; and this collaboration will be crucial as we seek to expand the world-leading capabilities of the region.
Midlands Engine Health brings the talent of East and West Midlands together and it allows us to showcase the fantastic innovations of Midlands’ businesses, our universities and NHS Trusts. By working together, we will have one voice to promote the Health, Med-Tech and Life Sciences Sectors, which is essential if we are to meet the challenges of an aging population.
It also provides a route to central Government, which will lead to extra funding in order to grow all of the Midlands’ key sectors. This includes developing skills, innovation, manufacturing and Research & Development (R&D), which will ensure that the Midlands continues to thrive as a national hub for these important growth, education, health and community support areas.
I see great growth opportunities ahead, supported by the work of Midlands Engine Health, amongst others, which will benefit life sciences businesses based here.
Morningside Pharmaceuticals is a good example of this. We are unique amongst UK businesses in that we were founded as a 100% export-led company and have then grown our business into the UK market. Since our inception, we have exported to more than 120 countries, and see good opportunities for further international growth, particularly in developing and emerging countries, as well as the EU.
Today, Morningside has over 242 Generic and Branded licensed medicines registered in the UK and EU.
To deliver growth, businesses in the Life Sciences Sector are investing in R&D and manufacturing to maximise the opportunities available. Potential opportunities include; advanced manufacturing, adjusting to a data economy, such as investing in artificial intelligence to better manage data, as well as innovating to provide products to an ageing society.
Businesses in the sector are also investing in digital technologies and ‘Big Data’ to better manage electronic healthcare data sets, which traditional software struggles with.
Collaborations are important too, and we want to see more of these between public and private sectors with academia. Our local universities are also very able and willing to work with businesses and the NHS to create new innovative products and services.
Now that we have reached the end of the transition period with the European Union, Midlands Engine Health will actively work to identify and capitalise on these new global opportunities, as well as attracting international investment and accelerate sector-wide growth.
By working more closely together the Midlands’ leading Health, Medical Technology and Life Sciences Sectors can ensure that we maximise the benefits of innovation for our regional economy and society in general.”