BIOAs in previous years, BIA and UKTI will be leading the UK delegation at BIO2015, working together to maximise the networking opportunities on the UK pavilion and offering grant assistance for companies to exhibit in Philadelphia. More information will be available later this year. In the meantime, as the deadline for BIO2015 panel sessions draws near (2 October), Sue Charles, Managing Partner, Instinctif Life Sciences, highlights the merits of using a panel session to raise your profile in front of the largest global biotech audience.

BIO International Convention, the Global Event for Biotechnology, is the largest conference in the life sciences business calendar, usually attracting some 16,000 delegates, including nearly 2,500 CEOs, with 40% of delegates drawn from International audiences, comprising 65+ countries. The UK is always well represented and it’s a great place to network and do business. BIO 2015 runs 16-18 June in Philadelphia, PA, USA, details here:

As with any conference, costs can be high when you add up registration fees, travel and accommodation and, of course, time. Organising and participating in a panel during BIO can provide a powerful opportunity for companies to position themselves as a thought leader. Unlike company presentation slots, there are no fees for running a panel and there is also the added benefit of reduced registration fees!

To be successful, session topics will need to be provocative, on cutting-edge topics that affect the global biotech industry with an attractive speaker line up. They can:

  • Profile new technology and provide insight on promising research developments.
  • Spark creative conversations: we welcome unique, timely, and novel ideas.
  • Build crucial dialogue with your audience through interactive education formats.
  • Establish yourself as an international expert who tackles the most pressing issue

Whilst June 2015 may seem a long way off, time is short to get in a panel proposal – the call for sessions closes on 2 October. Instinctif Partners has worked with many clients to devise attractive panel topics, preparing successful panel submissions and managing the co-ordination and promotion of the panel. Here are a few tips and guidance on what is available:

Session Formats

Different session topics may be suited to different session formats. Consider which of the following formats will most effectively serve to communicate your message.

  • Interview: One presenter, one moderator. The moderator questions the presenter on the session topic for approximately three fourths of the time, after which the floor is opened up for questions to the presenter from the audience.
  • Debate: One moderator and no more than two speakers will have an interactive, lively discussion in which they will put forth opposing views on the session topic.
  • How-To Session: Tutorials for the novice or expert in biotech with 1 – 2 speakers. Addresses a specific topic or issue in biotech and provides practical lessons learned. The total session time is 60 minutes including a minimum time of 15 minutes allotted for questions and answers with the audience.
  • Master: One presenter, who is considered a visionary in the biotechnology field, conducts a 45-minute presentation delivered lecture-style from the stage. Master speaker must be Executive CEO level and facilitate formal Q&A for the last 15 minutes of session (60 minutes total).
  • Interactive Panel: 60 and 75 minute offering where panellists (maximum of 3 plus one moderator) present case studies from multiple perspectives facilitated by a moderator. Moderator will facilitate formal Q&A with the audience and panellists for a minimum of 15 minutes.
  • Rapid Fire: Fast-paced session with an allotment of four speakers giving one distinct 10 minute talk each. Moderator will provide a brief summary of what had been covered and facilitate a formal Q&A with the audience for 15 minutes at the end of the session.

Speaker Information

Depending on the format, you are allowed a maximum of three speakers and one moderator per panel. The BIO Program Committee will prefer proposals which have a panel that is both completely confirmed and full, based on the proposed format.

Session Subjects

  • Business Development and Finance will focus on corporate deal making and operations, as well as fundraising for private and public companies.
  • Biomedical Technology: Research & Development
  • Digital Health will explore the intersection of digital health, biotech and pharma.
  • Value, Market Access & Commercialization
  • Intellectual Property will highlight current challenges in intellectual property protection for biotech innovations including pragmatic approaches to securing protection in light of the latest judicial and administrative developments. Those submitting proposals should ensure the content of the proposed session enables attendees to receive Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits.
  • General Biotechnology Interest will cover any areas that may not currently be represented in one of the top five focus areas.

In summary, advantages of organising a BIO panel include discounted entry to BIO for panel organisers and speakers; corporate awareness raising through the BIO program and your own marketing efforts; thought leadership profile and positioning with invited panel members.

To discuss how Instinctif Partners can support you in a panel session application for BIO, please contact us at:

gauke-abzena_600_300Scotland’s key decision last week to stay as part of the union provides a stable foundation for ongoing research and business development in the biotech sector, and has been welcomed by members from across the UK. The vote removes previously articulated worries regarding funding for the UK bioscience research community as well as application of UK wide drug regulation and licensing. However, a vote for no is not a vote for the status quo. Now the devo-max plan will be implemented; the first step will be a Parliamentary debate introduced by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown MP, followed by the introduction of a Draft Scotland Bill in the new year. We’ll monitor progress of these developments to inform on implications for the sector. Tax incentives and rates for SMEs will be our first focus.

I’m delighted to tell you that we’ll be welcoming Treasury Minister Financial Secretary David Gauke MP to open our UK Bioscience Forum on 7 October 2014, taking place during European Biotech Week. The Minister’s speech and Q&A will be timely following our response last week to the Treasury’s consultation on tax-advantaged venture capital schemes and how they can best support growing businesses.

Not only is Mr Gauke the lead Minister for the key finance and tax issues that impact biotech businesses, but through recent site visits to BIA member companies such as Horizon Discovery and Abzena (pictured above) he has demonstrated his personal interest in and commitment to the sector. As HM Treasury considers how underlying tax regimes might change, this is a great chance to engage with government on how the fiscal framework can best support innovation and investment. Come to along to the UK Bioscience Forum and put your questions to him yourself.

With the political party conference season over the next few weeks the BIA team will be on the ground ensuring we can gather real-time insight on what policy will matter to our sector, as well as ensuring all the parties understand what makes a difference to members. We will be back in touch after the season to give you the low-down.

I was also delighted also to see that the MHRA have issued their first Promising Innovative Medicine (PIM) designation under the Early Access to Medicines Scheme (EAMS) we have worked to deliver for the sector. It’s been issued to US based company Northwest Bio. This could present the opportunity for UK patients to be amongst the first in the world to be offered personalised immune therapy for brain cancer and shows that the EAMS helps to attract clinical development to the UK. This also shows that it is open to all, and hopefully this will be the first PIM of many. On the European front, the Adaptive Licensing pilot project is also moving in the right direction. In the last couple of weeks the EMA confirmed that it has received and assessed 26 applications as part of its adaptive licensing pilot project. Seven of these have been selected for further discussion with the application. This news came as the EMA also published a useful Q&A document on the scheme. We anticipate a review from the EMA by the end of this year, after which the next steps will be set out.

For those of you interested in antimicrobial resistance (AMR) it was interesting to see US President Obama launching his multi-strategy attack on antibiotic resistance. The administration also is putting up $20m in a competition for the development of a rapid, point-of-care diagnostic test for healthcare providers to use to identify highly resistant bacterial infections. Like seeing the beginnings of speedy clinical trials for Ebola, it puts a spring in your step when action is taken to start tackling really important global challenges. And it was good of Professor Adrian Hill, Director of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, leading the clinical trial application for the new Ebola vaccine, to put on record what the regulators were able to do – “What the MHRA did was remarkable. They were superbly efficient in fast tracking the approvals for this clinical trial, turning it round in under four days. It was crucial in being able to respond quickly to the great need seen in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa”.

Finally thanks to those of you who sponsored me as I did the 18 mile Carrots Nightwalk on Friday night for our charity partner of the year, Fight for Sight – it’s not too late to make a donation for this great cause. I’ll bring some pics of the event to the UK Bioscience Forum and look forward to seeing you there.



This year BBSRC is running Images with Impact: the Great British Bioscience Image Competition, seeking the best photos that represent how life sciences are changing the world, in areas such as: food, farming, bioenergy, biotech, industry and health.

The overall winner will be decided by public vote when shortlisted entries are displayed at the Great British Bioscience Festival in London in November – giving individuals a chance to get their images seen by a huge audience.

Watch this week’s member video for more details, and to see examples of past entrants.

Any type of image can be entered: photography, visualisations and even illustrations. You could be looking down a microscope, panning across farming landscapes or capturing a new piece of science technology – anything visual that shows the beauty of science and its impact.

Submissions will close on 6 October 2014 so be creative and get snapping! For more information and to apply for the competition, please click here.

Do you have a video you would like the sector to see? Contact us.

First, this week’s news is that the first Promising Innovative Medicine (PIM) designation has been issued to Northwest Bio. It is great that the Early Access to Medicines Scheme (EAMS) is moving forward and that its first user is a smaller company. This shows that it is open to all and hopefully it will be the first of many. This could present the opportunity for UK patients to be amongst the first in the world to be offered personalized immune therapy for brain cancer. It’s smart of nimble US companies like Northwest Bio to pioneer new regulatory flexibility alongside the clinical development they are doing at King’s College Hospital in the UK. We urge more companies to consider utilising the EAMS as a pathway to access and the BIA will be setting up more opportunities to learn more about the operation of the scheme later this year. Watch this space.

On the European front, the adaptive licensing pilot project is also moving in the right direction. Earlier this week the EMA confirmed that it has received and assessed 26 applications as part of its adaptive licensing pilot project. Seven of these have been selected for further discussion with the application. This news came as the EMA also published a useful Q&A document on the scheme. We anticipate a review from the EMA by the end of this year after which next steps will be set out.

Both these issues continue to be a key focus of our regulatory work. Early access is on the agenda at the UK Bioscience Forum and will also be discussed by BIA representatives at the EMA Information Day during Biotech Week.



George Freeman EAMS event_600_300

Last Thursday, we were delighted to take part in one of George Freeman MP’s first events as Life Sciences Minister, a panel discussion on economic regeneration and collaboration within the UK life sciences industry. See host Hanover’s blog on the event below.

Whilst so much focus is on whether Scotland will wave goodbye to the UK next week, Hanover’s event with new Life Sciences Minister George Freeman MP and a panel of experts from industry and academia yesterday concluded that the life sciences community at least is better together.

Alongside the new Minister was a panel comprised of:

Jonathan Emms – UK Country Manager, Pfizer and President, ABPI Steve Bates – CEO, BioIndustry Association Dr Eliot Forster – Executive Chair, MedCity Professor Ian Greer – Chair, Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA) and Executive Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Health & Life Sciences, University of Liverpool

The event was chaired by Andrew Ward, Pharmaceutical correspondent at the Financial Times, before an audience of 50 from life sciences companies, health and research charities, and funding bodies.

Warmth towards the new Minister at one of his first public speeches was strong from both the panellists and the audience – all welcomed a Minister with such a strong sector pedigree into this newly created position.  George Freeman’s whole career demonstrates his personal commitment to the sector. He said one of his tasks was to demonstrate the value of the new Ministerial position so that the first Life Sciences Minister in the UK (indeed globally) was, in his own words, “not the last.”

There was wide debate across topics including the patient benefits of genomics and big data, ensuring clinical research funding delivers maximum impact, and on driving greater use of new treatments and innovations to NHS patients more quickly. The power of collaboration and partnership locally, regionally and nationally through the MedCity and NHSA initiatives as well as the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) were seen as critical to delivering on these issues, and for continued economic growth in the face of international competition. As well as traditional rivals for investment in the US, Far East, or even Switzerland, it was noted that Paris is now setting up a life science initiative to mirror MedCity.  Steve Bates set out some of the different layers that define an effective cluster, which the UK has, from the coffee shop and canteen culture that facilitates the sharing of ideas, to the ability to attract and retain talent in a geography because people can move job without moving house.

Mr Freeman is clearly on a mission to make a difference in the short time he has before the next election.  He used this public platform to champion the role of MedCity, the NHSA, and AHSNs, and announced plans for a conference for all AHSNs to come together and share good practice and learnings. On data and research, he said the Government needs to “reboot” the initiative by setting out more clearly why the benefits of research to patients are so powerful. One attendee described a scenario where a patient decides not to allow their anonymised data to be used for research but then puts money in a collection box for Cancer Research UK. The Minister and others agreed that in future the giving of data needs to be considered as valuable as giving money.

It was noted that there is a third life sciences cluster in the UK in the Glasgow to Edinburgh corridor of Scotland. One week away from the Scottish referendum, Mr Freeman did not miss an opportunity to say that this Scottish science corridor is more dependent on public sector funding than the two English clusters and receives £400m every year in central Government funding, an amount which “could not be justified” if Scotland left the UK.

Panellists and the audience used their opportunity with the Minister to explain how industry investment commitments on Research and Development in the UK were still not being matched by NHS use of new products, including NICE approved technologies, and ones discovered and developed in the UK. Panellists pointed to cultural behaviours in the NHS which focus primarily on cost containment and too often see innovation as an additional cost rather than an opportunity to reengineer and improve care in more efficient ways. One contributor put it most succinctly; “the road to innovation stops at NHS procurement”. George Freeman said that Government was very aware that financial incentives remain poorly aligned to incentivise innovation in the NHS and that this was being looked at. He also expressed a desire to establish a number of local heath innovation pilots in the NHS, probably involving the AHSNs, to showcase good examples of innovative practice.

The Minister will be judged on how he delivers against these issues, and rightly states that he can only do so much in the next nine months or so. For now he will know he has a community united in support and keen to accelerate the agenda with him.

EU-ATDay2_BIA_Website_Banner_720x215It seemed like Westminster woke up last week and immediately rushed to Scotland to campaign for a No vote in this Thursday’s referendum. A Yes vote would have significant impact and the campaign so far has failed to provide any detail on crucial issues on our sector. For instance I can find no detailed plan for how drugs would be licensed or regulated in an independent Scotland, and have raised the question to the MHRA at a recent meeting. This, along with the integrated nature of the UK’s bioscience research community, means the costs of separation would cause significant disruption to member businesses and the research community, so I’ll provide more reflection on this next week once the result is in.

I’ve also enjoyed good meetings with George Freeman, the new Minister for Life Sciences and the Labour front bench ahead of the party conference season. The main three party conferences kick off with Labour this coming weekend, and I’m glad to report that all sides of the house see the continued importance of our sector to the UK economy and are receptive to new ideas.

That’s why I’m delighted that Lord Drayson will be giving the keynote speech at our UK Bioscience Forum on 7 October – he has a unique perspective from both government and industry angles, and it’s shaping up to be a fantastic day. See the full agenda here.

One deadline coming up this week is for the Treasury’s consultation on tax-advantaged venture capital schemes (mainly the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Seed EIS). The BIA will be submitting our evidence this Thursday.

Finally, the EMA has issued guidance on the Adaptive Licensing pilot in the form of a handy Q&A document following intial experience with the system. I’m glad to see this greater clarity for members who I know follow this agenda closely.



Earlier this month the NC3Rs (National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research) announced they have awarded £4.9 million to five Phase 2 winners in their CRACK IT Challenges. See this week’s sector video to learn more about the CRACK IT Challenges – competitions that fund collaborations between industry, academics and SMEs to develop new 3Rs technologies and approaches which improve business practices or lead to new marketable products.

One of the Phase 2 winning projects is a UCL dementia study co-sponsored by Alzheimer’s Research UK, Lilly and Janssen to effectively transform patient skin cells into nerve cells in the lab. The team will now work with Edinburgh-based companies RBiomedical and Roslin Cells to scale up their experiment to improve drug discovery for Alzheimer’s and frontotemporal dementia.

For more funding opportunities see our funding page.

Do you have a video you would like the sector to see? Contact us.

Consilium logo

Consilium share their top tips on how to prepare for the JP Morgan 33rd Annual Healthcare Conference in January 2015. More to follow soon from BIA on how to maximise the opportunities for those heading west next year.

It’s back to school and that means the JP Morgan 33rd Annual Healthcare Conference is just four months away.  Planning should have already started.  By the time you are reading this, you should have your hotel room(s) booked – make it a suite!

Not everyone will receive an invitation to present, or even attend, this event.  Don’t fret, there are plenty of other conferences in town that dove-tail off of JP Morgan and may be better suited for the smaller cap company. Conferences such as The Biotech Showcase have grown in popularity over the years and provide an excellent forum for emerging companies to tell their story.

The best way to secure a coveted invitation to the “Main Event,” however, is to start laying the ground work a year in advance by forging relationships with the appropriate bankers and analysts.  Contact them and tell you your story and be sure to update them throughout the year.  You will not get an invitation if the professionals at JP Morgan don’t know you.

Whether or not you are presenting, before you travel half-way across the world, you want to be sure time spent away from your office is maximized.  Items for your check-list:

  • Have a game plan. What are you trying to accomplish – fund raise, partner with other companies, promote your product through trade media?  Have a reason to go and then develop a plan of attack.
  • Schedule, schedule and confirm. Scheduling of meetings should start in November. (This is where the sought after suite will pay off.)  Diaries do fill up quickly as do restaurant reservations.  Begin to develop target lists of investors, analysts, bankers, VCs, reporters, potential partners, etc.  If you are not sure who the right players are, hire an investor relations or business development consultant who specialises in the sector.  Also, please realise that nothing is set in stone and up to the day of the meeting, schedules will change.  Being able to “go with the flow” is the best advice we can give.
  • Don’t forget to network. Besides arranging your own meetings, there are an abundance of soirees that take place in San Francisco that week.  In fact, more business actually gets conducted outside of the hallways of the actual conference.  Many banks, VCs and industry gurus plan cocktail parties at some very interesting venues.  It will be important to pace yourself.  Be selective and prioritise.  Priority should be given to invitations extended by current investors, potential partners and current analysts.  You will get the most out of networking at these events while showing appreciation and loyalty. There is one prestigious weekly trade publication that hosts an “invitation only” event – try to do what you can to snag an invitation – it is almost as hard as getting into the Conference itself.

When networking, be sure to have your “elevator” pitch ready.  Make eye contact and know when it is time to move on.  Always, provide your business card.  The week following the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference (also known as the “hangover”) will be spent going through those business cards.

  • Follow-up. Between all the meetings, networking and travel, people tend to be too “hung over” the Friday and Monday after the conference.  With that in mind, begin to follow-up on the Tuesday following JP Morgan.   Be sure to send information to those who requested it and email people with whom you would like to continue discussions.  If you used an investor relations or business consultant, this is their time to gather valuable feedback.  You should receive a follow-up memo within a week.

Finally, make sure your mobile is charged (and that your charger is always with you) before you start each day and have an energy bar or two on hand.  Also, don’t be afraid to block out a half-hour meeting with yourself to regroup each day!

If you would like to discuss planning for JP Morgan with Consilium Strategic Communications’ US partner Rhonda Chiger, please do not hesitate to contact us at


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