Memorandum submitted by GlaxoSmithKline
I am responding as Chairman of GlaxoSmithKline,
the newly merged corporation comprising Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline
Beecham. As you will recall both companies submitted evidence
back in June last year. The following comments build upon those
First I would stress that GlaxoSmithKline welcomes
the White Paper as a significant and positive step in the science
and innovation agenda in the UK. The Paper contains many sensible
suggestions, building on developments since the 1993 White Paper
carried through successive Governments. Particular points of note
The emphasis on the importance of
scientific excellence as the main criterion governing investment
in basic science.
The strategic understanding that
universities must adopt a variety of missions in order to build
on their individual strengths.
The acceptance that Government must
facilitate the translation of research advances into tangible
national benefits, eg, in healthcare and that this requires continuing
attention to build bridges between the public and private sectors.
The call for action to harness the enormous impact and benefits
of genetics research for future health by developing a strategy
for service provision in the NHS is particularly welcome.
The recognition that science and
innovation need a stable and transparent framework of public support
within which they can develop.
The acknowledgement that, while the
UK has a leading international reputation as a centre for science
and innovation, there is no room for complacency.
The introduction of a Small Business
Research Initiative, inspired by the US example, opening up R&D
The central understanding that growing
scientific excellence is impossible without better science education
in secondary schools.
The importance of capitalising on
the European and wider international dimensions in scientific
research and collaboration and of encouraging the best people
to come to the UK.
The commitment to deregulating European
markets and, in particular, speeding up product and patent approvals
within the EU.
Overall the White Paper is to be warmly welcomed.
There are however, a few areas where I believe careful consideration
is needed as the work outlined is taken forward.
First, the White Paper continues
to enlarge the number of initiatives that support the positive
exploitation of science and technology in the UK and creates a
positive climate for innovation. All of these are justifiable
in their own right, but there is no indication of which existing
initiatives will be brought to an end or developed to address
new objectives. This is always a difficult issue for governments,
but a review of existing initiatives, their complementary roles
and potential for development or cessation should be addressed
in every White Paper.
Second, the co-ordination of science
and innovation policy across government is key. Too often positive
strategies and investment by one government department, is undermined
by another. The science and innovation strategies being developed
across Whitehall, if effective, will provide a more coherent approach
that should allow the UK to capitalise on its scientific and innovative
capabilities across many sectors and have maximum impact on enhancing
the quality of life for all in the UK.
Third, GlaxoSmithKline applauds the
intention signalled in the White Paper to encourage better IP
management by universities and other publicly funded research
institutions. We would however be most concerned if this were
to result in the introduction of any Bayh-Dole" type legislation.
As you may know, the Bayh-Dole Act was enacted in the USA in 1980
to encourage use of the patent system to promote the utilisation
of inventions from federally supported research or development.
In doing so, it provided a framework for the ownership and exploitation
of intellectual property arising from government funded research
in US universities, small businesses and non-profit organisations.
The Act includes a number of worrying
features all of which could serve as major disincentives to industry
and academia collaboration if introduced into the UK. Key examples
include the provision that the US government retains the right
to take title to any invention made by a government employee and
to ensure that inventions are properly exploited (so called "march-in"
US Universities may also elect to
retain title to inventions arising from research funded in whole
or in part by federal funds. This raises the possibility of US
universities owning intellectual property generated using what
is substantially company funding, perhaps because certain equipment
used within the collaboration has been provided to the university
by prior federal funding.
Creating an environment to support
exploitation and commercialisation of inventions arising from
government funded research is clearly vital to sustaining the
UK economy. Introducing into the UK legislation equivalent to
Bayh-Dole however, would significantly undermine the flexibility
and creativity that currently underpins industry and academia
Finally, as you may recall from SmithKline
Beecham's initial submission to your enquiry, we welcome the Committee's
support for extending the system of R&D credits to all companies
(not just SMEs). The Chancellor's pre-Budget statement heralding
an HMT initiative looking into incentives for vaccine development
and announcing plans to consider extending to larger companies
an existing scheme for small businesses under which they could
offset their R&D against tax, suggests a shift in Government
thinking on this issue. Enclosed therefore, is a short briefing
paper on the R&D tax credits, emphasising the need for further
discussion as part of the broader debate on science and innovation
in the UK.
Any support the Committee could led to promoting
these concernswhile acknowledging the White Paper's many
strengthswould be most welcome.
11 January 2001
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