Today Chandni Kerai finishes her paid internship at the BIA, which was organised through the Cogent Placement Service. We have found that the service provides an excellent pool of candidates, with science backgrounds and diverse interests, and having an extra pair of hands has been invaluable for the BIA over a busy time of the year. Following on from our previous student Hana’s blog about her placement, here Chandni writes about her experience of working in public affairs and policy for the BIA.
My three month internship at the BIA has provided me with the best foundation in the bioscience sector and has been a great start to my career as a graduate. My time here has exceeded my expectations – maybe because of the misconceptions that many graduates hold about internships.
The main project during my internship has been BIA’s annual Parliament Day. The purpose of the day was to outline the needs of the sector to key policy makers. I met with senior BIA members representing a range of companies involved in researching and developing innovative technologies and products for patient benefit. Split into smaller groups, I met with senior policy makers including key Ministers, policy makers from bodies including the Department of Health, NICE and NHS England to lobby key asks on behalf of the sector. It was great to see how senior executives engage with and represent their sector directly to decision makers in and around Westminster.
A project such as this has been great to work on and seeing it all come together was certainly rewarding. I also attended BIA advisory committee meetings, had opportunities to attend meetings held in Parliament and attended a range of networking events. To say that I had – or any intern has – a lot of learning to do is an understatement, but having a range of responsibilities and activities to undertake has provided me with many opportunities to translate and apply my academic skills and knowledge, from both a physical science and a law background. Engaging with other people that are just as passionate about the sector as myself and seeing the work that goes in to making a difference to bioscience in the UK has been a real eye-opener.
Public affairs is a fascinating area to work in and had it not been for this internship, I would not have thought it to be a potential career path for me. I would like to give enormous thanks to the BIA team for their continuous support and guidance – I would consider myself very fortunate to work with another team just like this one. I would strongly encourage my peers to apply for placements and internships alike.
You can also see a blog on the Cogent Placement Service from last year, which features results from the Life Science Skills Awards. The UK Life Science Skills Awards 2014 are on 15 May in London, recognising exemplary skills provision in the life science sector. A discount is available for BIA members.
This week’s post features BIA member organisation Quintiles who specialise in aiding pharmaceutical and healthcare companies navigate the complex, heavily regulated process of bringing a drug or medical device to market.
The featured video highlights the scientific advancements in Oncology drug development, specifically within the new targeting methods used based upon a cancers biological signature to increase treatment effectiveness.
Do you have a video you would like the sector to see? Contact Ryan Vaughan
It is just over a month until the Chancellor announces the government’s 2014 Budget. Last week we sent our submission to the Treasury. The BIA is calling on government to: introduce Citizen’s Innovation Funds (CIFs), improve UK capital markets as a source of investment for innovative bioscience companies and introduce a centrally funded and reimbursed Earlier Access to Medicines Scheme. My next webinar on 27 March will provide a quick guide to the measures in the Budget that impact on our member companies.
It was great to see so many members at our BIA breakfast last week. Many people talked about the current financing environment and Circassia’s decision to list next month. I was pleased to see another company, Horizon Discovery, announce its intention to list on AIM. Over the last few years the BIA has campaigned, alongside the London Stock Exchange, for investors to be able to include shares of AIM listed companies in their Stocks and Shares ISAs. I am told by the LSE that this change to the rules has improved liquidity for companies on AIM.
Did you see the Financial Times cover feature on Biotech in FT Money this Saturday? It’s good to see more generalist coverage of the opportunities in our sector. The FT also featured biotech on its Money Show podcast last week, which included a great interview with Dan Mahony of Polar Capital (the section on biotech starts at 05.39). I’d welcome your views on how we might best capitalise on this and take further steps.
You may have noticed a new section in our Newscast, and on our blog this week, as we are going to showcase the best videos from our members. The first is a great animation from Bio Nano Consulting about their device that tests water for arsenic – a killer in places like Bangladesh. If you’d like us to share your company’s videos with our community, please drop us the link.
One of the highlights of our events is our regulatory affairs conference. This year our MHRA/BIA Innovation Conference will be held on Thursday 19 June and will give insights into the opportunities and challenges in the regulation of healthcare innovation. The conference will be co-chaired by Dr Ian Hudson, Chief Executive Officer, MHRA, and Alan Morrison, Vice President, International Regulatory Affairs and Safety, Amgen, and Chairman, BIA Regulatory Affairs Advisory Committee, and will be the ideal place to hear the latest thinking from senior experts at MHRA, NICE, European regulatory agencies, industry and research charities. Last year’s event was a sell-out so I would suggest you register early to avoid disappointment.
BIA member company Hays is compiling a life sciences salary survey and are looking for senior and influential people who would be willing to give a short interview so that the content can be included within the survey. Please visit the survey for more information.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Medical Research has launched a competition to find case studies that show the many benefits of investing in medical research – health, social and economic. The group is looking for examples that show how charities are improving care for patients and contributing to the government’s growth agenda and Strategy for UK Life Sciences. The winning case studies will be presented at the group’s Parliamentary Summer Reception to demonstrate to Parliamentarians and policy makers why public, private and charity research funders need their continued support as we head into the 2015 election and the next spending round.
Finally, a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst would be launching a sector mentoring scheme. SBC is holding a launch event for the scheme on the morning of 18 March. The agenda will cover the benefits of mentoring and how the scheme operates for both mentors and mentees. If you are interested in attending the event, becoming a mentor or a mentee, please contact SBC.
As part of our on-going commitment to promote its member success stories; each week we will be posting a video from our membership in order to celebrate the best of UK Lifescience.
This inaugural post features Bio Nano Consulting, a specialist contract research provider working in the UK life science and technology sectors.
The featured video highlights the issues associated with arsenic poisoning and the potential benefits of a new low cost field test being developed by Bio Nano Consulting, the Drink Safe device.
Do you have a video you would like the sector to see? Contact Ryan Vaughan.
The BIA has made a submission ahead of the upcoming 2014 Budget which will take place on 19 March. In the interest of open and transparent policy-making the government welcomes innovative ideas, which will be considered by HM Treasury. The BIA has taken this opportunity to reflect upon the needs of our member companies and the sector.
The sector is continuously growing and improving with significant investments made in research and development activities. The UK is renowned for its world leading research base, excelling in translating research. With significant public funding support, it is important to ensure such innovations can be supported towards a commercial market.
The UK remains the strongest bioscience cluster in Europe with 400 product candidates in development in 2012. It also remains the fundraising leader, both in terms of the €363 million capital raised and with 49 financing rounds led by significant public fundraisings as well as venture capital deals.
With this in mind the BIA calls on government to:
- Introduce Citizen’s Innovation Funds (CIFs). The BIA’s proposal would allow for a much needed alternative source of private growth capital and would enable members of the public to support innovative UK companies. The proposal is based on the successful French FCPI scheme where, for every one Euro spent by the French Exchequer in foregone income tax, five times as much capital has been raised.
- Improve UK capital markets as a source of investment for innovative bioscience companies. A sustainable and viable route to attract the larger amounts of private capital needed to fund later stage clinical trials would allow innovative bioscience companies to grow independently. The government can help to achieve this by: actively supporting efforts to engage more generalist investors with bioscience and innovation; creating the incentives and framework required for this; increasing analyst coverage of the sector; and examining the JOBS Act in the US, which has helped stimulate public listings.
- Introduce a centrally funded and reimbursed Earlier Access to Medicines Scheme to enhance the environment for medical research and clinical development, support innovative bioscience companies’ ability to take a product to market and improve patients’ access to innovative medicines.
The BIA welcomes moves which demonstrate the government’s commitment to innovative bioscience companies. For example, the Biomedical Catalyst, which marked the launch of the coalition government’s Strategy for UK Life Sciences, has been an effective biotech initiative, positively impacting the sector. The funding initiative has proven to be a vital asset in helping UK biotechs to see innovative ideas through the proof of concept stage and into clinical development.
We look forward to the announcement on the 19th of March.
If you would like to help us shape our future policy asks for the sector, we are keen to hear your views to feed in to developing our Life Science Manifesto.
I’m looking forward to seeing around a hundred members at our London Breakfast this Wednesday morning. I hope this informal event will enable you to network effectively and catch up on some of the issues affecting our sector. R+D Tax credits, access to finance and the planned early access scheme often come up but I imagine we might discuss the decision by the NHS to delay the introduction of its care.data system until the autumn. This has been hot news in the last couple of weeks I’m keen to get your views. More time for the public to learn about ‘information sharing, the benefits and their right to object’ is now ahead. I believe that the use of NHS patient data in clinical research will be a significant differentiator in maintaining the UK as an attractive global location for life science and I’m glad that lots of powerful voices from the UK science, clinical, research and patient community are joining together to help explain to the public how information can be used for medical research and will be kept safe.
If you are not in London this week I hope you can join my monthly webinar on Thursday. Alongside my regular policy update, I will be joined by Caroline Briggs, Managing Director, Amici Procurement. Caroline will help members understand how they can help grow their business effectively through using the BIA’s business solutions programme and Amici’s procurement solutions. Register on our website.
Looking further ahead on 3 April I will be speaking at the SynBioBeta conference in London. Last year a number of synthetic biology companies joined the BIA and we have been supporting them through our Synthetic Biology Advisory Committee and by supporting events such as SynBioBeta and the mission to the Bay Area last November, this is a great event to understand the vibrant UK company scene in this emerging area. For details of the discount for BIA members visit our website.