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UAE and UK sign £1bn deal to invest in life sciences

The UAE and UK agreed on Wednesday to invest £1 billion ($1.38bn) in Britain’s life sciences industry.

Under the Sovereign Investment Partnership signed by the two countries, Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company will plough £800 million into the industry over the next five years while £200m will come from the UK’s Life Sciences Investment Programme that was unveiled last year.

“The UAE and UK are aligned on the importance of global action on critical priorities such as healthcare innovation and delivery, climate change and the sustainable growth of high-skilled industries,” said Khaldoon Al Mubarak, group chief executive of Mubadala.

“Mubadala is already a long-term investor in UK innovation and growth, and our new partnership now provides a platform to allocate stable capital to priority sectors as part of a future-focused investment relationship.”

The UK’s life sciences industry generates £80bn in sales a year and employs more than 250,000 people.

The partnership is expected to generate stronger links in research and education and deepen UK-UAE trade and investment ties that were worth £32bn in 2019.

The two countries are expected to honour their financial commitments later this year.

Money will be invested in technology and innovation-led sectors such as energy transition and infrastructure that will “support job creation in both nations, strengthen national research and development capabilities and develop new areas of investment collaboration”, according to Mubadala and the UK Office for Investment.

“The UAE is an important trading partner for the UK and home to some of the world’s largest and most experienced investment companies,” said Britain’s International Trade Secretary Liz Truss.

“It is fantastic that we are collaborating more closely in the industries of tomorrow such as science, technology and green growth, so we can build back better and deliver an investment-led, jobs-led recovery from the coronavirus.”

Mubadala will also connect UK companies to research initiatives across its portfolio in sectors such as composite manufacturing, semiconductor production, renewable energy, biotechnology and urban mobility.

“Attracting and enabling strategic international investors to operate effectively in the UK is vital to job creation and our growth as a world leader in life sciences, clean growth, tech and innovation,” said UK Minister for Investment Gerry Grimstone.

“Mubadala is exactly the calibre of investor that we want to partner with to enable vital pillars of our economy to advance.”

The agreement comes after Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson met in December and discussed strengthening relations.

Mubadala, which has an asset base of $232bn, is one of the largest investors in the UK’s clean energy infrastructure industry and has stakes in wind farms off Norfolk, near Hywind, Scotland and in the Thames estuary.

Abu Dhabi's strategic investment arm is planning to increase its investments within the life sciences and the medical technology sectors, readjusting its portfolio in the wake of the pandemic, Mr Al Mubarak said last year.

Mubadala and Denmark-based Novo Holdings jointly invested €250 million ($295m) in drug discovery and development company Evotec in October. Evotec is among the world’s top drug discovery companies and it seeks to improve access to more precise and effective medicines.

In November, Mubadala joined a consortium of investors in HealthTech company Envision Pharma Group.

The consortium, which was led by Mubadala, included European healthcare investor Global Healthcare Opportunities, global private equity investment firm HarbourVest Partners and US financial services company Northwestern Mutual.

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