Where Does Brexit Leave European Biotech?


By the 30th of March 2019, the UK will officially exit the EU, in a move that is popularly known as Brexit. With this date fast approaching, companies, organizations and individuals all over the world have speculated about how Brexit might impact them.

According to the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, at the launch of her national campaign in July 2016: “It is hard to think of an industry of greater strategic importance to Britain than its pharmaceutical industry.” With under a year to go until Brexit kicks in, its consequences are already evident in this industry. A number of EU academics were reported to have already pulled out of the UK by last summer, and as of June 2017, the number of EU staff departing the UK was up 30 % compared with 2 years previous, according to data released by universities under the Freedom of Information Act.

Unfortunately, these consequences are only a taste of what it is to come, and as recently as January 2018, European Pharmaceutical Review reported challenges for UK life sciences companies in filling senior positions, with applications from non-UK nationals plummeting from around 40 % to just 15% on average. Here, we take a broader look at how Brexit could impact European biotech in the future.