A packed note from me today following a busy week for the sector.
Many congratulations to this year’s recipient of the BIA Lifetime Achievement Award, Dr Clive Dix, announced by new BIA chair, Jane Osbourn, at our Gala Dinner last week. Clive has made a significant personal impact on the sector throughout his career and continues to do so in his current roles at C4X Discovery, Touchlight Genetics and Calchan, and through his enthusiasm and encouragement as a mentor to the next generation of biotech entrepreneurs. The BIA will be hosting an evening with Clive Dix on May 12th where he will be sharing his story and details will be coming soon on the BIA website.
Alongside Clive’s award presentation, our dinner guests also heard from Simon Vinnicombe, representing BIA charity of the year JDRF. An inspiring and heartfelt speech on the challenges his son faces living with Type 1 diabetes. We’ll be working with the JDRF team throughout 2016, supporting the charity to raise funds and working to see how our two organisations can work together to promote the vital role that UK bioscience plays in solving unmet patient need. You can find out more about the partnership in this guest blog from Dr Clare McVicker, Director of Research Advocacy at JDRF.
We were also delighted to welcome Life Sciences Minister George Freeman, who gave a rallying speech on recent successes in the sector, echoing sentiments from the 2nd Annual Future of Healthcare Investor Forum where he opened the London Stock Exchange (LSE) on Wednesday morning. Since the launch of the UK Life Sciences Strategy in 2011, government support has stimulated £6 billion of new investment in the life sciences sector, creating over 17,000 jobs – a great achievement. Building on these foundations, new figures released on Wednesday confirmed that the sector showed continued strength in public market activity in 2015 and raised the highest level of private investment for a decade. Our overview document, produced in conjunction with the Investor Forum, also indicates that the UK maintains its lead in Europe in terms of our pipeline of new products.
It was fantastic to be able to celebrate and showcase these achievements both on Wednesday at the LSE and amongst friends and colleagues at our Gala Dinner.
At the BIA, we continue to lobby the Government on issues to build upon the success and strength of our sector. On Friday, we submitted our recommendations for the 2016 budget highlighting key areas that must be addressed if the UK life science sector is to continue to grow and benefit both the economy and society. The submission outlines key areas that BIA members believe must continue in order for the sector’s current success to be maintained and refined including; R&D tax credits, the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), Patent Box and the overall tax framework. The continuation of the Biomedical Catalyst remains a prominent theme and is a core ask of our Budget 2016 submission. For more details, the full submission is available to view here as well as the accompanying press release.
Also on policy matters, last Tuesday I appeared before the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee to give evidence on the influence of EU membership on UK science, building on the BIA response we submitted to the inquiry at the end of last year. You can view the evidence session on the blog here. In terms of our sector, a potential Brexit would affect legislation, patient access to medicines, the leadership role of the MHRA, and our intellectual property and patents ecosystem. BIA has called on the Government to set out a plan of the expected disruption to UK life science businesses. In particular, this should include how it would expect to handle the European Medicines Agency and Unified Patent Court leaving London, how medicines would be approved and regulated, and the likely impact on investment. This is a topic which will remain at the top of our agenda and watch this space for more from us on Europe in the weeks and months to come.
On medicines manufacturing, it was great to see the new ADDoPT (Advanced Digital Design of Pharmaceutical Therapeutics) project launched last week. The £20.4 million project addresses a key challenge for the pharmaceutical industry; getting new innovative medicines to market in the quickest and most cost-effective way possible to ensure access for patients. The collaboration will pursue this goal by developing and implementing advanced digital design techniques that eliminate non-viable drug candidate formulations as early as possible, streamlining design, development and manufacturing processes. This is a great result for the UK medicines manufacturing partnership, of which the BIA is a key part and I look forward to seeing the new technology being applied to biologics so that we can continue to address unmet patient need with the most innovatively designed and effective treatments possible.
I was also pleased to see that several BIA members were awarded Innovate UK funding as part of the five successful projects in the ‘Developing regenerative medicines and cell therapies’ competition. You can read more about the projects on the Innovate UK blog – congratulations to all.
Finally, a short survey request from our friends at the NIHR. The Experimental Medicine Resource Finder (EMRF) is a unique tool designed to help researchers to identify centres of excellence for experimental medicine in specific therapeutic areas. In order to shape the future or the EMRF tool and to ensure it is fit for purpose, NOCRI is undertaking a stakeholder consultation during which members of the life science industry are invited to provide their feedback on the EMRF. To have your say, please complete the short online survey here, which should take no more than 10 mins.
I look forward to seeing some of you in Scotland later this week for the Life Science Awards Dinner on Thursday evening and at our Science and Finance lunch on Friday.