How equipment finance can support the UK life sciences sector

June 7, 2024

Access to advanced equipment and technology is essential in an industry characterised by rapid innovation and high-stakes research. In this blog, we will delve into the various ways asset finance can empower UK life sciences businesses, from facilitating groundbreaking research to fostering the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

How has the life sciences sector changed over the past few years?

Post COVID, the life sciences sector has undergone significant transformation driven by technological advancements and increased collaboration. The integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning has revolutionised data analysis, enabling researchers to process vast amounts of biological data with unprecedented speed and accuracy.

The pandemic also catalysed rapid innovation and collaboration amongst the UK private and public sector, with the UK Government working closely alongside pharmaceutical companies, research institutions, and the NHS to prompt the urgent development of vaccines and therapies. As a result, the Life Sciences industry has become and is intended to be a pillar of economic growth within the UK economy.

What challenges do Life Sciences businesses face?

Whilst there has been notable growth in the market, there are still significant challenges ahead. A more competitive market especially in attracting top talent, an evolving regulatory landscape, increasing prices, and notably a need to invest in tech and R&D in order to keep pace with industry developments.

In 2023 to help drive industry growth the Government announced “a £650 million war chest”. However, how this war chest is allocated means there will be many who are left disappointed. Given the increased competition for grant funding and Venture Capital investment, many companies are considering alternative ways to invest in equipment whilst minimising cash burn rate and maximising enterprise value.

Why is funding essential for the Life Sciences sector?

Funding fuels the research, development, and innovation necessary to drive advancement in several fields including medical devices, biotech and pharmaceuticals.   Life sciences ventures can require substantial investment in the right laboratory equipment, highly skilled personnel, and extensive clinical trials to ensure the safety and efficacy of new treatments or technologies.

State-of-the-art laboratory equipment underpins the accuracy, efficiency, and reliability of scientific research and development. Modern instruments and devices enable precise measurement and analysis, allowing researchers to obtain high-quality data and reproducible results. This precision is crucial for developing new drugs, diagnostic tools, and treatments. The latest equipment often incorporates automation, high-throughput screening, and advanced imaging techniques, which significantly enhance productivity and reduce human error.

The ability to conduct sophisticated experiments with the latest tools helps companies stay competitive and comply with regulatory standards. Having the right equipment can help secure and retain the best people. Both are intrinsic to the development and growth of the company.

Finding the right procurement solution is vital to improving key workflows and many companies within this sector are unaware of, or have limited access to, equipment finance solutions designed to improve the breadth of investment options available to the life sciences sector.

How equipment finance can support UK Life Sciences companies

Equipment finance offers secured funding for a broad range of customers within the Life Sciences sector. University-based research, MedTech/Biotech manufacturers, UK Science Parks and laboratory service providers can all benefit from spreading the cost of investment.

The benefits to those operating in the life science sector are clear as it allows investment in new, cutting-edge technology with a fixed periodic payment profile providing additional tax benefits.

Managing cash burn is crucial for life sciences businesses due to the inherently high costs and long development timelines associated with their research and development activities. Many life sciences ventures operate with substantial upfront costs and delayed revenue generation, meaning efficiently managing cash flow is essential to sustain operations and ensure financial stability.

Effective cash burn management allows businesses to strategically allocate resources, maintain investor confidence, and avoid the risk of running out of capital before achieving critical milestones.

For suppliers, offering equipment finance as part of their range of purchase options is a powerful sales tool, providing flexible purchasing solutions that support sales growth, customer satisfaction, and financial stability. By lowering barriers to acquisition, enhancing cash flow, and fostering innovation, equipment finance enables suppliers to thrive in a competitive and rapidly evolving market.

How SAF can help

At SAF, we possess a wealth of experience in assisting customers and supporting suppliers when navigating the various finance options available to customers that facilitate their equipment investment. 1st Class service is at the heart of everything we do.

The life sciences sector has its unique nuances. Our expertise and experience with varying markets within this sector allow us to work proactively and flexibly with customers to create the ‘right’ finance solution for your budgetary requirements.

SAF are here to help you navigate the procurement options available to you and secure funding approval, ensuring your business has the resources it needs to succeed. For more information on our finance options or how we can support your sales team, please feel free to contact a member of the SAF team via

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