Today we announced that we will be partnering with Alzheimer’s Research UK as our charity of the year in 2017. The BIA has worked with the charity this year on its Celebrating UK Bioscience campaign that looked at how the Dementia Discovery Fund, launched in 2015 by Alzheimer’s Research UK, the Department of Health and global pharmaceutical companies, supported BIA member Gen2 Neuroscience in its work to tackle dementia. Find out more below.

Dementia is a global health challenge, expected to affect more than 132 million people worldwide by 2050, and the UK is leading the way in tackling the challenge.dementia-time

The Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF) was created by the UK Department of Health, Alzheimer’s Research UK, alongside major global pharmaceutical companies Biogen, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, Pfizer and Takeda who have invested $100 million into a fund to support the discovery and development of novel dementia treatments.

The fund is managed by SV Life Sciences, who are working to identify and support the development of novel therapeutic approaches. A world-class Scientific Advisory Board, with representatives from the DDF’s strategic investors and world-leading international academics has been set up to share expertise, expand the DDF’s collaborative networks and advise the investment team.

Current treatments for dementia only help to ease the symptoms of the condition for a limited time but do not address the underlying cause. The aim of the fund is to boost innovation in research and development to deliver new drug approaches for dementia by 2025 to diagnose and intervene early to modify the course of disease while improving symptoms, which will lay the foundations for effective therapies.

The DDF is working collaboratively with universities, academic institutes and the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry internationally to identify novel dementia research projects and nurture these through the pre-clinical phase, enabling further development in clinical trials.

Cambridge based Gen2 is the first UK investment by DDF: Gen2 is a seed company engaged in the discovery and development of novel treatments for dementia targeting abnormal forms of the essential extra cellular protein tau.


Watch the BIA video which features Dr Matt Norton, Director of Policy and Strategy, Alzheimer’s Research UK, Kate Bingham, Managing Partner SV Life Sciences (Dementia Discovery Fund), Dr Rick Livesey, CEO Gen2 Neuroscience and Joy Watson, dementia patient and Alzheimer’s Research UK supporter.


Last week the UK Minister for intellectual property, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, told her European counterparts that the UK will ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement.

Being able to protect intellectual property is vital for life science companies and is often the key value in emerging bioscience companies. The BIA supported the UK’s involvement in establishing the UPC but the question of whether to ratify following the Brexit vote was always a difficult one to balance with the complexities of what would happen should the UK have to withdraw once it leaves the EU. So while the desire to see rapid entry into force of the new system is understandable, it is now imperative that the Government works swiftly with the other signatories to the Agreement to ensure the UK can remain part of the UPC after it leaves the EU and avoid these complexities arising. If this isn’t achieved, appropriate transitional provisions will be essential to address Unitary Patents covering the UK and ongoing litigation covering the UK.

It’s important to note that with or without the UPC, British companies can continue to protect their IP in UK courts and benefit from our world-class legal services. Ratification of the UPC Agreement doesn’t change UK law but does give British companies the option to protect their IP with one patent across 25 countries. Read the IPO announcement here and the full BIA statement here.

As we enter December, I’m pleased to say that the BIA will be joining the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) to support and engage in the excellent work they do. The BIA share CaSE’s ambitions for increased public investment in science and innovation, better education and training, and greater use of evidence in policy making. These issues are essential to ensuring the UK continues to be a world-leader in the life sciences. Read more about the work they do on the website.

On Tuesday the BIA hosted a breakfast forum with N+1 Singer to update investors on the latest biotech public market figures, the Government’s industrial strategy and the BIA’s policy and advocacy activity. It was fantastic to see a number of new faces in the room as the BIA continues to develop new relationships with specialist and non-specialist City investors to raise awareness of our sector.

Last week I was pleased to Chair a BIA roundtable in the House of Lords focusing on access for patients to ultra orphan medicines, in light of the publication of a consultation by NHS England and NICE that seeks to attach a QALY to these medicines. BIA will be submitting a response to the consultation and I would welcome members’ views – please contact Laura.

Many of our BIA advisory committees meet this week for the final round of meetings in 2016. The BIA’s eight advisory committees are crucial mechanisms for highlighting the most relevant issues facing bioscience companies. If you’re interested in getting involved, our third Committee Summit will take place on 24 February 2017 where the eight committees will meet on the same day and provide an update on their activity this year and key issues and focus for 2017. We welcome existing committee members to register their attendance and invite the wider BIA community to attend and join a committee meeting – more details here.

The Department for International Trade are country partners for the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2017 and will be focusing on Life Sciences/Pharmaceuticals this year. The event we were informed last week is in India on 9-12 January (clashing with JP Morgan and Biotech Showcase in San Francisco). The Summit will offer business and networking opportunities with the pharmaceutical companies in India especially Gujarat (considered to be the manufacturing hub for pharmaceuticals in India) and Mumbai. If you’re interested in being part of the delegation, please contact Dr Edna Dsouza, Senior Sector Manager, Healthcare for further information or visit the website. The deadline for registration is 15 December.



Our Friday video this week is taken from our recent ‘Celebrating UK Bioscience’ campaign.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a fatal muscle-wasting condition, caused by the lack of a protein called dystrophin. Summit Therapeutics, a biotechnology company based in Oxfordshire is developing a potential treatment approach, known as utrophin modulation, to slow or stop disease progression.

Watch the video to hear from Summit Therapeutics, charity Muscular Dystrophy UK and Charmaine Twine, ambassador for MDUK whose two sons Josh and Ethan have DMD.

Learn more about the ‘Celebrating UK Bioscience’ campaign here.

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

We had a great time in Newcastle for last week’s bioProcessUK conference. Watch the slideshow below for pictures from the event, or visit Flickr to browse the album at your own pace.


The UK BioIndustry Association ‘Celebrating UK Bioscience’ campaign highlights the impact that the UK bioscience industry makes on delivering ground-breaking treatments to patients. Here we take a look at type one diabetes, an autoimmune condition, where the body’s own immune system attacks cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Cambridge based BIA member Arecor, partnered with BIA charity of the year JDRF, is working to develop a concentrated form of insulin – a critical step towards the advancement of the miniaturisation of delivery devices.

Type one diabetes is a chronic, life threatening condition that has a life-long impact on those diagnosed and their families. In type one diabetes, the body’s own immune system attacks cells in the pancreas that produces insulin. It is not caused by anything a child or parents did or didn’t do and cannot be prevented; it is not linked to being overweight, lack of exercise or other lifestyle factors.

The condition often strikes in childhood and stays with people for the rest of their lives. Type one diabetes affects 400,000 people in the UK, including over 29,000 children. Long-term complications of type one diabetes include heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and limb amputation. On average the life expectancy of a person with the condition is shortened by 10–15 years.

Many people with type one diabetes rely on insulin injections and up to 10–12 finger prick tests every day just to stay alive, but people are increasingly using insulin pumps rather than injections to deliver insulin and flash or glucose monitors to keep track of glucose levels. Next generation device technology such as wearable, continuous administration patch pumps and implants are critical developments for people living with diabetes. They help improve control over the levels of glucose in the blood and they could help reduce adverse states such as hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), as well as overall complications and mortality.


Cambridge based Arecor are working on concentrating insulin 5- to 10-fold so that the pump technology that delivers insulin can be made smaller. The smaller the pump, the more concentrated the dose of insulin needs to be.

Concentrating insulin is a challenging process as aggregation can take place when the proteins and peptides within the insulin start to stick to each other during the concentration process. This changes the makeup of the insulin and can mean that it no longer works when it is used.aggregation-picType one diabetes charity JDRF will provide Arecor with up to $900,000 in milestone funding over 12 months to complete product development of a stable concentrated insulin.

Watch our video and hear more about the research from Arecor, JDRF and Simon Vinnicombe, whose son George lives with the condition.

You can also download our accompanying infographic here.

Photo by Rob and Bekki

It’s now clear that life science businesses are at the centre of the new government’s economic policy. Philip Hammond’s first Autumn Statement contained lots of opportunity for our sector, including £4.7bn of additional research and innovation funding providing a “substantial increase in grant funding through Innovate UK”, a review into patient capital led by Wellcome Governor Sir Damon Buffini, and a Treasury led review of R&D tax incentives, which the BIA called for in its submission ahead of the Statement. It was confirmed that the Biomedical Catalyst will allocate £10m in 2017/18 and £30m per annum after that until 2020/21. In addition the British Business Bank has been allocated £400 million to support VC. Thank you to members who enabled our voice to be heard at this crucial time, this is a great result for all your and our hard work  – the BIA blog on the Autumn statement is here.

Last Wednesday also saw the next meeting of the UK-EU Life Sciences Steering Group, the latest step in an ongoing dialogue between the sector and the Government on the important role the Life Sciences sector has to play in the UK outside the EU.  Following the first meeting in September, BIA has been working with the ABPI and Government to address some of the key issues raised, including regulation, trade and access to finance.  I was glad to be able to answer member’s questions and update on our member webinar on Friday, held jointly with the ABPI.

The industry will continue its collaborative working relationship with Government on the key Brexit issues. In addition we will be working with Government on life sciences industrial strategy – what this work will look like is something that we are currently working with Government on and I will engage members as soon as I have more that I can share. BIA last week published a background document on bioscience industrial strategy, which you can download here. We’ve seen a number of strong signals from Government in recent months, and I’ve had encouraging talks with both the Prime Minister (see picture above) and the Chancellor over the past week who both recognise and understand the importance of the sector. We will continue to work together and with Government, towards a common goal of delivering an environment that supports the growth of the industry, adds value to the wealth of the country and which brings new, life-changing medicines to patients.

More positive news continued in the UK with BIA member Kymab announcing a $100m Series C, led by Chinese investors, indicating the international attraction of UK biotech. The fundraise is the joint fourth-largest of 2016 so far, and the largest for a private UK biotech this year. It was also great to hear another BIA member, GHO Capital, announce the successful final close for GHO Capital Fund I LP, a €660 million private equity fund which has been raised to seize the “highly attractive and underpenetrated investment opportunity in European healthcare”.

The BIA team were in Newcastle for much of last week at the 13th Annual bioProcessUK Conference – a great few days amongst the UK’s thriving bioprocessing community. The first Richard Wilson Impact Award was presented to Dr Tony Bradshaw for his ongoing commitment to the bioprocessing community, from establishing bioProcessUK (part of the KTN) and driving the issues central to this sector, to setting up the annual conference and nurturing and developing talent and skills. The winner of this year’s Peter Dunnill Award for Outstanding Contribution to UK Bioprocessing was Professor Nigel Titchener-Hooker from the Faculty of Engineering Sciences at UCL. He delivered an inspirational lecture drawing on his experience working with Peter Dunnill himself and followed these lessons learnt through to his own research and desire to accelerate the development of biopharmaceutical processes and the challenges which these present. As always a fantastic conference bringing together the bioprocessing community and fostering debate and stimulating discussion across this dynamic industrial sector.

The conference also saw the launch of the Advanced Therapies Manufacturing Taskforce action plan, outlining a strategy on how the UK can become the global hub of advanced medicinal therapy manufacturing and ensure the long-term success of this industry in the UK. This plan was shared with Ministers at the MISG meeting on Wednesday and soundly endorsed. The taskforce itself was launched by the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP) earlier this year and is co-chaired by Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Jo Johnson MP and Ian McCubbin, SVP North America, Japan & Global Pharma Supply, GlaxoSmithKline. The Government has recognised the ambition within the sector for the UK to become a global hub leading on research, development and manufacture of advanced therapies, seeing regenerative medicine as one of the eight great technologies. Securing these in the UK through future Industrial Strategy will support the UK’s agenda to drive productivity, exports and inward investment and help to capture the estimated over £300m worth of business available.

Last Tuesday BIA Board member Will West gave evidence to the Commons Science and Technology Committee for its inquiry into managing intellectual property and technology transfer. Will did an excellent job representing BIA members, telling the committee that there are many good examples of Technology Transfer Offices in the UK but more needs to be done to spread best practice and make it easier for SMEs to engage with universities.

If you’re at the Patients First conference today, come and say hello where we’ll be showcasing our videos and material from our Celebrating UK Bioscience campaign. And looking forward to the end of the week with One Nucleus, our United Life Science partner, hosting this year’s Genesis conference.



On Tuesday evening we were delighted to attend the Northern Health Science Alliance’s 5th birthday celebrations.

Since its beginnings in 2011 the NHSA has worked to be a voice for the North’s Health Science community joining together the eight leading  research universities, research-intensive NHS teaching Trusts and the four northern Academic Health Science Networks from across the North. Watch the video to find out more.


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


With his first Autumn Statement, Chancellor Philip Hammond MP, continued the past administration’s theme of addressing Britain’s productivity puzzle and sought to show the UK remains committed to being a science superpower post-Brexit and is “open for business”. Here we look at some of the major announcements for the life sciences sector.

As expected, the Government is no longer seeking a budget surplus in this Parliament, but will look to return public finances to balance “as early as possible”. This has allowed for new spending that the Government hopes will boost productivity and the economy. However, departmental spending plans set out in 2015 Spending Review will remain in place (except for the Ministry of Justice).

National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF)

There will be a new National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF), which will provide £23 billion of spending between 2017-18 and 2021-22, for items such as housing and transport infrastructure and will “prioritise science and innovation spending”. The document says this represents new investment and we therefore expect this to be in addition to the real-terms increase in the Science Budget announced last year (we will keep an eye on this); new science and innovation spending over this Parliament through NPIF will be:

  • £425m in 2017/18
  • £820m in 2018/19
  • £1.5bn in 2019/20
  • £2bn in 2020/21

This spending will be distributed through two channels:

  • Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund – a new cross-disciplinary fund to support collaborations between business and the UK’s science base, which will set identifiable challenges for UK researchers to tackle. The fund will be managed by Innovate UK and the research councils. The Government says this is modelled on the USA’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) programme and will cover a broad range of technologies, to be decided by an evidence-based process
  • Innovation, applied science and research – additional funding will be allocated to increase research capacity and business innovation “to further support the UK’s world-leading research base and to unlock its full potential”. Once established, UKRI will award funding on the basis of national excellence and will include a “substantial increase in grant funding through Innovate UK”

The British Business Bank will also invest an additional £400 million in venture capital funds to unlock up to £1 billion of new investment in innovative firms planning to scale up.

The Autumn Statement also confirmed the £100m for the Biomedical Catalyst and a further £100m for tech transfer, both announced by the Chancellor in October (although the latter was originally announced as £120m, it’s not clear whether this is a mistake).

Science and Innovation Audits

The government has selected eight areas for the second wave of Science and Innovation Audits, most notably for us is one for the “bioeconomy of the North of England”. The others are: the East of England; Innovation South; Glasgow Economic Leadership; Leeds City Region; Liverpool City Region +; Offshore Energy Consortium; and Oxfordshire Transformative Technologies. The government is also announcing a further opportunity to apply to participate in a third wave of audits.

Tax and finance

To ensure the UK tax system is “strongly pro-innovation”, the government will review the tax environment for R&D to look at ways to build on the introduction of the ‘above the line’ R&D tax credit to make the UK an even more competitive place to do R&D. The BIA will be feeding into this review and is already in conversation with relevant Government officials.

The Statement confirms that the Government will stick to the Business Tax Roadmap announced at Budget 2016. This means corporation tax will continue to fall to 17% by 2020.

HM Treasury will lead a review to identify barriers to access to long-term finance for growing firms, supported by an advisory panel led by Sir Damon Buffini. The BIA will feed into this review, building on roundtables we have already held with the Government on this issue.

Talent and skills

The government will provide £13 million to support firms’ plans to improve their management skills by implementing Sir Charlie Mayfield’s review of business productivity. This will be consulted on in December.

There was no mention of the Apprenticeship Levy in the Chancellor’s Statement but it is still forecast as a revenue stream for the Government so it looks like there is no policy change there.

The BIA’s view of the Autumn Statement

There is a lot to welcome from a life sciences perspective in today’s Autumn Statement. It’s fantastic to see this government showing an understanding of what is important to life science businesses. As trailed by the Prime Minister on Monday, there’s continued commitment to research and development and the promise of a ‘substantial increase in grant funding through Innovate UK’, this will allay concern over previous plans to convert some grants to loans. And the focus on improving the R&D tax credit regime and access to patient capital is crucial and very welcome.

One thing missing from today’s document that was trailed by the Prime Minister is the review of the Small Business Research Initiative but this will likely appear in the coming weeks along with the industrial strategy green paper we’ve been expecting. There was also no new funding for the NHS.

The reviews offer another useful opportunity to strengthen the UK’s life sciences offering. The BIA is already well-engaged with ministers and key Government officials on these issues and we’ve already held a number of useful roundtables with our members and the Government to address issues like access to capital. We will continue to use these relationships to work with Government, as well as feeding into the reviews announced today, to improve the life sciences business environment and achieve our vision to build the third global bioscience cluster.

All the Autumn Statement documents can be found on the Treasury website.

The UK BioIndustry Association ‘Celebrating UK Bioscience’ campaign highlights the impact that the UK bioscience industry makes on delivering ground-breaking treatments to patients. Here we take a look at Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a fatal muscle-wasting condition. BIA member Summit Therapeutics, a biotechnology company based in Oxfordshire is developing a potential treatment approach, known as utrophin modulation, to slow or stop disease progression.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a fatal muscle-wasting condition, caused by the lack of a protein called dystrophin.

Dystrophin acts as a molecular shock-absorber for muscle fibres. Without it, muscle fibres break down and are replaced by fibrous and/or fatty tissue causing the muscle to weaken gradually. Not only does the condition impact on muscles used for movement, but also on the heart and respiratory muscles. There is currently no cure for the disease, which affects around 2,500 people in the UK. The average life expectancy is around 30 years old.




DMD is a genetic condition that can be caused by a range of mutations in the dystrophin gene, located on the X chromosome. Females have two copies of the X chromosome, while males have an X and a Y. This means the condition primarily affects males, but women can be carriers of the disease with one affected X chromosome. Usually female carriers do not show signs of the disease because they have a second X chromosome that can compensate by producing the dystrophin protein that the body needs.

Up to one third of new cases of DMD arise in patients with no familial history due to spontaneous mutations in their dystrophin gene.

Summit Therapeutics, a biotechnology company based in Oxfordshire is developing a potential treatment approach, known as utrophin modulation, to slow or stop disease progression.

Utrophin is a naturally occurring protein that is functionally and structurally similar to dystrophin. Utrophin is produced during the early stages of muscle fibre development but is switched off in maturing muscle fibres, at which point dystrophin is produced to perform the same functional role.


Summit Therapeutics aim to modulate, or change, how utrophin is produced in boys and men with DMD. The approach aims to use small molecule drugs to maintain the production of utrophin to compensate for the absence of dystrophin in order to maintain and protect healthy muscle function.

Watch our video and hear more about the research from Summit Therapeutics, Muscular Dystrophy UK and Charmaine Twine, whose two sons Josh and Ethan have DMD.

You can also download our accompanying infographic here.


Today in a series of important announcements the UK government put our sector at the centre of its aspiration for the UK’s future economy. I was able to discuss the Prime Minister’s personal commitment to this at a roundtable this lunchtime with her at the Wellcome Genome campus in Cambridge.

First the announcements:

  • A new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to back priority technologies – such as robotics and biotechnology – where the UK has the potential to turn strengths in research into a global industrial and commercial lead. The fund will be overseen by UK Research and Innovation
  • A review of current R&D tax incentives to ensure the global competitiveness of the UK as a home for scientists, innovators and tech investors
  • The government will publish a green paper on Industrial Strategy before the end of the year and seek industry views
  • The government will commit to investing an extra £2 billion a year by the end of this Parliament in R&D – to help keep the UK at the cutting edge of science and technology
  • A review of the Research and Development Tax Credit to make it more generous and easier to use
  • A new Patient Capital Review – led by the Treasury – that will examine how we can break down the obstacles to getting long-term investment into innovative firms. Sir Damon Buffini will chair the panel
  • A review to improve the Small Business Research Initiative, where government procures innovation, led by Cambridge entrepreneur David Connell, that will look at how we can increase its impact and give more innovators their first break

The Prime Minister has clearly listened to some of the sector’s hopes, concerns and aspirations and its fantastic to see the government’s commitment to R&D, the translation agenda, improvements to the fiscal environment, and on our core issue on funding of the need for patient and plentiful capital.

As ever with government announcements, it will take time for these commitments to become operational but its great to see such a positive direction of travel. From our discussion at lunchtime, the Prime Minister clearly understands and takes a personal interest in the need for patient capital – which she had worked on at the Bank of England earlier in her career. We will provide more detail and context in forthcoming weeks but its great to see the government picking up on many of our policy asks.

To provide context to Wednesday’s Autumn Statement, when the government will formally launch a consultation on Industrial Strategy, the BIA has put together a new briefing – The place of Bioscience in the UK’s Industrial Strategy. This document pulls together the BIA’s existing policy recommendations in one place and reviews what has made a difference in the past. In 2015, we published our ten-year vision for the UK to become the third global bioscience cluster. It set out the ambitions of the sector and the challenges that must be addressed to achieve them. The Industrial Strategy is an opportunity for the sector to work with the Government to put in place policies that will help achieve that Vision.

The briefing document launched today draws on this Vision, showing how the sector has benefitted from previous industrial strategy and looks at what opportunities and challenges there are for UK bioscience moving forward. The UK has a strong history in bioscience and successive governments of different political persuasions have built upon the efforts and progress of those before them. This continuity and commitment has put the UK in a position to rival the US bioscience clusters of Boston and San Francisco. Over the coming months, the BIA will work with its 300+ members and the Government to develop specific policies to support UK bioscience; these will be guided by the need for sector-specific policies that will unlock the its unique potential, and industry-wide policies, including investment in R&D and skills and creating the right fiscal and trade environment for businesses to thrive.

Last week we announced Immunocore Chief Business Officer Eva-Lotta Allan, Calchan CEO Brenda Reynolds and Polar Capital Partner – Healthcare Dan Mahony will join the BIA Board as new Directors from January 2017. In addition, Kevin Cox and Tim Watts were also re-elected for a term of three years. Many congratulations to all five.

Continuing on the theme of our Vision for 2025, one of the central pillars to its success is the development of talent. Diverse and refreshed boards are key to successful companies in our sector. At our recent UK Bioscience Forum we heard that success is seen when plc Boards are science-led, diverse, focused on the firm and well rewarded. We also saw the need for greater diversity within these leadership groups. It’s therefore great to see five of the BIA Board positions now filled by women. In 2017 the BIA and its Board will continue to promote new ways of enabling management talent to gain the experience they need to lead our sector. The BIA looks forward to building the next generation of management talent to reflect the breadth and strength of the ecosystem here in the UK.

On that note, the team were at BioBeat16 this week for the launch of the 50 Movers and Shakers in BioBusiness 2016. Held at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, the event launched the report, which recognises female pioneers and leaders in the healthcare industry and is produced by BioBeat, a programme to inspire the next wave of bio entrepreneurs and business leaders. Congratulations to all those who were listed in this year’s Movers and Shakers – including BIA Chair Jane Osbourn and newly elected Board member Eva-Lotta Allan.

There was a lively panel discussion around Stretching Biotech Pharma Entrepreneurship, which was chaired by Lynn Drummond of Venture Life Group and Infirst HEALTHCARE and featuring: Jane Osbourn of MedImmune; Inga Deakin of Imperial Innovations; Sally Waterman of Abzena; and Julie Walters of Raremark. Scientific collaborations, routes to funding and the dynamics of being a successful biotech entrepreneur were all covered.

It was interesting to see the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee publish their report on the implications of leaving the EU for science and research, which highlights many of the same issues we have raised through our Brexit work. On Wednesday the next meeting of the UK EU Life Sciences Steering Group will take place, following which we will be holding an update webinar for BIA and ABPI members on Friday 25 Nov at 12 noon. To register please click here.

This week the BIA team will be heading to Newcastle for the annual bioProcessUK conference. With over 300 delegates, it’s going to be a great event – look forward to seeing you there.