As we gear up to next week’s BIA Gala Dinner, our video today comes from Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Watch the video below to find out more about dementia ahead of the dinner, where we’ll be raising money for the charity through our silent auction.

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

Only one week to go until this year’s BIA Gala Dinner, where we’ll be raising funds for our Charity of the Year, Alzheimer’s Research UK!

The below infographic outlines one of our biggest global healthcare challenges, dementia, and how UK bioscience is working to tackle it.


Watch our video to find out more about dementia here.

For more information on our ‘Celebrating UK Biocience’ project, visit the website.

Last week the BIA headed to a wet and windy San Francisco for Biotech Showcase. We were joined by members and partner organisations to wave the flag for British biotech on an international stage. Here we take a look at the highlights.

Addressing the threats and opportunities of Brexit

With Trump’s inauguration in less-than a fortnight, Brexit wasn’t top of the agenda at Biotech Showcase. But interest was still high as delegates crowded into the BIA’s panel workshop to hear how the UK bioscience sector is addressing the threats and opportunities of the momentous decision.

Biotech Showcase panel

BIA’s CEO Steve Bates chaired the session, which featured five Brits, including himself, and one American. In his opening remarks, UK Government Minister Lord Prior said he believes Brexit is a “catalytic event” for British innovation and stressed that the government is working hand-in-hand with industry to make the most of it. He highlighted the recently-announced 20% increase in public funding for research and innovation and the government’s underwriting of EU funding up to 2020. Later in the session he said the government would be announcing further support for research collaboration this year.

MedCity Chairman and CEO of Immunocore Eliot Forster continued the up-beat message, noting that his company has seen an increase in job applications from Europeans despite Brexit. He stressed the need for continued access to global talent, including from the EU, which in his opinion the government understands.

Alison Dennis, a Partner at law firm Fieldfisher, didn’t shy away from highlighting the difficulty of extracting the UK from the EU regulatory regime and said that a transition period would be needed to allow companies time to plan and adjust. However, there is great expertise in the UK’s regulatory agencies, such as NICE and the MHRA, she said. Outside the EU, this could allow the UK to respond much quicker to new technologies than our EU counterparts, meaning a much more innovation-friendly system could be developed.

The London Stock Exchange’s Chris Mayo surprised many in the room by pointing out that UK healthcare IPOs outperformed those in the US in both 2015 and 2016, suggesting that the financing environment is strong. He added that a number of specialist fundraising vehicles have also launched recently making the UK a unique market. This paired with the weak pound could attract foreign investors to the UK scene he said.

The only panellist without a “Downton Abbey accent”, as Steve put it, was AstraZeneca’s Steve Twait. However, he praised the talent of the UK science base and said that his company was continuing with its investment in a new Cambridge HQ and research campus because of the great opportunities for collaboration with academia.

As Steve put it at the beginning of the session, the fundamental strengths of UK life sciences remain unchanged following Brexit. And those fundamentals look to get stronger as the Government focusses on supporting the sector and investing in innovation as part of its life sciences strategy.

BIA members in the spotlight

img_0255There was a strong showing from British biotech presenting this year, including 11 BIA members: Abcodia; Abzena; Altimmune; Biosignatures; Cell Medica; hVIVO; Immodulon Therapeutics; Mereo BioPharma; Oxford BioMedica; ReNeuron; and Scancell.

It was great to see the strength of UK science on display. ReNeuron, for example, showcased the UK’s leading position in regenerative medicine with their cell-based therapies for motor disability resulting from stroke and for the blindness-causing disease, retinitis pigmentosa. And Immodulon demonstrated the global interest in UK science in their presentation, which included a project investigating the use of Mycobacterium vaccae to treat post-traumatic stress disorder funded by the US military through DARPA.

Toasting UK bioscience

The highlight of the BIA’s trip to San Francisco was the UK reception, hosted with our partners, to celebrate British bioscience. We were delighted to welcome so many of our members as well as our global colleagues.

The popularity of the event not only showed what a positive and open sector we have in the UK but also the interest in it from the US and international community. Thank you to everyone who attended the evening and made it such an enjoyable and successful event.

The BIA would like to thank our partners for supporting all the above activity in San Francisco: the Department for International Trade, Fieldfisher, London Stock Exchange, London Partners, and MedCity.

Biotech Showcase panel

Biotech Showcase panel

Last week the BIA headed to a wet and windy San Francisco for Biotech Showcase and JP Morgan, joined by members and partner organisations flying the flag of UK life science excellence on the global stage. The week, for a largely US community, was overshadowed by President Elect Trump’s first public utterances on our sector at his press conference on Wednesday. They are worth reading in full:

“I think a lot of industries are going to be coming back (to the USA). We have to get our drug industry coming back. Our drug industry has been disastrous. They’re leaving left and right. They supply our drugs, but they don’t make them here. To a large extent. And the other thing we have to do is create a new bidding procedures for the drug industry because they’re getting away with murder.

Pharma has a lot of lobbies, a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power. And there’s very little bidding on drugs. We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world, and yet we don’t bid properly. And were going to start bidding and were going to save billions of dollars over a period of time.”

So, as I said in my blog on his victory in November, whilst the market has priced in Hilary Clinton’s defeat (“known unknown’s”) it rested on “unknown unknown’s” with Trump. It now seems as if his intent is to encourage as much of the value in the pharma industry as possible to base itself in the USA via protectionist policies, that may include tax reform, and at the same time, has implied that he wants the US public healthcare system to negotiate drug prices. Additionally Robert F Kennedy Jr. has been asked to lead a new commission on ‘vaccine safety and scientific integrity’ which has been seen by many in the media as a process that will marry vaccine sceptics from both sides of the US political spectrum. Trump tweeted about vaccines in 2014: “Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn’t feel good and changes – AUTISM. Many such cases!”  It remains to be seen whether and how all this can be delivered in the months and years ahead, but it’s an important staging post of intent we need to be aware of.

What is clear is that the new administration is going to be a significant break from the last and will have a material impact on market sentiment, as well as public discourse on science and health throughout 2017. So you’ll see why I’m looking forward to spending some time this week analysing the Presidential Inauguration for sector impact, as well as Theresa May’s much heralded speech on Brexit tomorrow.

Thank you to everyone who came to our events out in San Francisco. It was great to see such a strong showing from the UK from this year. Keep an eye out for our blog tomorrow rounding up the highlights. At the conference itself, we teamed up with the Department for International Trade to hold a packed Brexit panel at the conference, highlighting that the fundamental strengths of UK life sciences remain, and hosted an enjoyable UK biotech networking reception on Monday evening. Given Trump, Brexit wasn’t top of the agenda at Biotech Showcase, but interest was still high as delegates crowded into the BIA’s panel workshop to hear how the UK bioscience sector is addressing the threats and opportunities of the momentous decision.

Lord Prior, who joined us as part of the panel at Biotech Showcase, has now had his responsibilities confirmed following the mini reshuffle I mentioned last week – they include life sciences, industrial strategy and the single market. You can view them now online here.

In other news, I’m delighted to let you know that the latest round of the new Biomedical Catalyst funding is up online, ready to launch next Monday, 23 January. £10 million is available for 1 year Feasibility studies awards (to explore and evaluate the commercial potential of innovative scientific ideas) and 2 year Primer awards (previously Early/Late Stage awards, to conduct a technical evaluation of your idea through to proof of concept in a model system). There will be a briefing event webinar for the competition on 6 February – register to attend here.

It’s extremely satisfying to see the competition launching after years of lobbying efforts by the BIA and our members. You can find out more about the road to refunding the BMC in our infographic here.

On Friday we responded to a NICE and NHS England consultation on changes to the arrangements for evaluating and funding medicines. The proposed changes could stop the flow of new medicines reaching patients with very rare and complex diseases. This follows a recent roundtable held by BIA members to discuss the issues raised by the consultation that was attended by MPs, Peers and patient groups with an interest in medicines for rare diseases.

Rather than unlocking innovation in the NHS and delivering equity and access to all patients the proposed changes in the consultation will delay access to medicines and undermine confidence in the system for both patients and industry. It is vital that the industry collaborates with NICE and NHS England to ensure that ground breaking treatments can be made available to patients quickly and efficiently, wherever they live in the UK. You can read our press release on the submission here or download the consultation response in full here.

BIA also submitted a response to the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee inquiry on closing the STEM skills gap last Friday. Our submission specifically addresses the current skills deficit identified for manufacturing of Advanced Therapies, following in-depth work undertaken as part of the Advanced Therapies Manufacturing Taskforce. Due to its strong research base, the UK is well-placed to secure a world-leading position in the Advanced Therapies manufacturing market, which is expected to grow to be worth between $14-21 billion globally per year by 2025. In order to ensure a sustainable supply of knowledge and skills necessary to fuel the growth of Advanced Therapies manufacturing in the UK, the creation and implementation of an end-to end talent plan for the sector is required. This must support the development of a range of skills from Manufacturing Technicians through to Post-doctoral and Professional levels. You can read our response in full here for more details.

And a final note to draw your attention to a new blog from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) providing expert insight into the latest regulatory thinking and all aspects of medicines regulation. You can follow the MedRegs blog here.



This week’s video showcase comes from BIA member Oxitec.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is responsible for the spread of Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases. Oxitec’s GE mosquitoes represent a paradigm shift in vector control. Find out how their eco-friendly and non-persisting solution works in this animated short.

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

There is great depth and breadth in UK biotechnology: from a strong and emerging regenerative medicine and cell therapy sector, to specialist biomanufacturing companies developing therapies for cancer treatment, to personalised treatments and new antimicrobials. Advances in technologies such as synthetic biology are impacting upon the development of new types of therapeutics and new production methods. UK bioscience is not only changing lives, but saving them.

It is vital that the sector continues to get the support it needs to keep this essential research and development going, now and in the future. The infographic below shows how complex the drug discovery process is and the various steps that BIA member companies go through to get drugs to patients.


Read more about the importance of our sector in the report ‘Celebrating UK Bioscience’ or watch our series of videos here.


The UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) Tissue Directory and Coordination Centre (the Centre) has been set up to improve researchers’ access to human tissue samples. One of the Centre’s main outputs is an online tissue directory which will hold information about sample collections across the UK and make it easier for researchers to find and access samples for high quality research.

In this blog, the UKCRC Tissue Directory and Coordination Centre’s Project and Engagement Manager, Emma Lawrence introduces the project and discusses how the UK Bioindustry can help shape its future direction.

What is the UKCRC Tissue Coordination Centre?

The Centre is the UK’s national biobanking initiative, it represents a first step in integrating national biobanking infrastructure to support research activity. It currently has three main work programmes:

  1. The Tissue Directory – promoting the visibility of UK human tissue samples;
  2. BBMRI-ERIC – working to promote quality and interoperability within Europe;
  3. Engagement – working with people and organisations to promote best practice, governance and public engagement.

The Centre was established in 2014 by the UKCRC Experimental Medicine Funders Group in order to achieve their Vision for Human Tissue Resources.

The Centre has therefore been established to promote best practice, harmonisation and standardisation, and to increase sample visibility in the hope that this will lead to increased sharing of samples, creating a more efficient UK research environment.

What is the UKCRC Tissue Directory?

The Centre has launched a UK wide Tissue Directory. The directory contains the details of biological samples and data, held across more than 80 biobanks in the UK. You can also search for existing capabilities to request fresh or bespoke tissue collections.

Human tissue samples are routinely collected by researchers and biobanks across the UK but, until now, finding tissue samples appropriate for research could often be time-consuming. The directory aims to facilitate communication between researchers and biobanks, providing a quick and efficient route for researchers to access appropriate samples and data to match their research needs.

Researchers can search the online directory and locate appropriate tissue samples held by a specific biobank, based on the associated datasets available, the age and gender of donors, and the sample type. It is possible to search the directory using the specific disease term, by viewing the list of diseases or the A-Z of Biobanks.

Watch the introductory video below

Why is this important to the UK Bioindustry?

The Centre want to engage with all stakeholders in the human biosample community. To make it a resource that works for everyone we’re interested in your feedback, please visit the website and contact us to let us know what you think.


We’re out in San Francisco this week, showcasing the best of UK biotech at JP Morgan and the Biotech Showcase. As always, it promises to be a hectic schedule of meetings and events – our webinar from last Thursday picks out the highlights and you can re-watch it here. This morning at the Biotech Showcase I’ll be chairing a panel discussion on the real threats and opportunities of Brexit and I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at tonight’s UK networking event. If you didn’t manage to secure a spot for tonight, I’m afraid the event is now fully booked.

On Tuesday morning a number of BIA members will be taking part in a workshop at Biotech Showcase on “Maximizing corporate value creation – management of cash in biopharma”, from 11 to 12pm in the San Francisco Continental Room 8 in the Hilton. Speakers include Neil Murray CEO of Redx Pharma, Linda Summerton CEO of Immodulon, Flic Gabbay Managing Partner at TranScrip Partners and Stephen Parker of Silence Therapeutics.

For those of you remaining in the UK, do keep an eye on Twitter for the latest news using #JPM17 or the BIA Twitter account @BIA_UK. We’ll have a round-up for you next week.

Looking forward to the year ahead, the BIA Events Calendar for 2017 lists the most important dates for your diary – download it here. For January, Thursday 26 is the date to note, with our Gala Dinner taking place at The Brewery. If you’re in town for the dinner, that afternoon we’ll be hosting an audience with the authors of Science, the State and the City, a book about the history of Britain’s industrial strategy for biotechnology. Former Editor of the Financial Times, Sir Geoffrey Owen, and Senior Lecturer in biomedical innovation at the University of Sussex, Dr Michael Hopkins, will discuss the development of the UK’s biotechnology industry over the past 30 years, how it has been supported by industrial strategy, and the opportunities and challenges for further growth. The event will begin at 15.30 and be followed by a wine reception. Please note this event is for biotechnology corporates and investors only – for more details see the website.

As we welcome the new year we’ve also seen a mini reshuffle in government with Lord O’Shaughnessy assuming life science responsibilities in the Department of Health. He was previously David Cameron’s Head of Policy and was made a peer when Cameron left office. I have made contact and look forward to working with him.

Meanwhile Lord Prior has moved to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to replace the IP Minister, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, although his portfolio has not been confirmed yet. We worked closely with Lord Prior on the UK EU Life Sciences Transition Programme and will continue to work with him in his new role. Baroness Neville-Rolfe has moved to the Treasury as Commercial Secretary, where I am sure we will continue to work with her also.

Work continues to progress around industrial strategy. Innovate UK and the Research Councils are beginning to define a first round of challenges to be addressed by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) – first announced by the Prime Minister at the 2016 CBI Annual Conference – and will soon be in a position to seek input from industry and the research base into their development.

To gather input from industry and the research base, the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) is organising a series of short workshops across the UK in the second half of January for innovators and researchers to engage with Innovate UK and the Research Councils and share your thoughts on what the challenges might be. This will be a valuable opportunity for you to help shape some of the key industrial challenges that, if addressed by the ISCF, could help deliver jobs and economic growth across the UK.

Events will be held across the UK and are not specific to any technology or industry sector, looking to attract a wide range of participants and viewpoints. You can register your interest in attending one of the ISCF workshops here. You’ll be notified if you’ve secured a place from Wednesday 11 January.

The ABPI have been working with UK MedTech industry partners, with the support of NHS England, DH and regulation experts, to establish a national process for credentialing. Significant progress has been made toward developing a cross-sector Life Sciences Industry (LSI) Credentialing Register and we are hoping that this will, when completed, receive approval from The Professional Standards Authority. We are keen to ensure that the register is as user-friendly and appropriate as possible in the expectation that our members may need to use it in future.

As part of the development of these standards a consultation has been opened for responses by companies/potential registrants on the proposed standards. Responses to the consultation will be really helpful in the development of this work. Full details of the consultation process can be found on the LSI website. If you have any queries regarding the consultation, please email or call 07749454308 to speak to someone from The Academy for Healthcare Science who are running the consultation process. Responses must be submitted by the 20th January deadline.

In case of interest, ABS-Int are organising a training session on ABS Essentials of complying with the Nagoya Protocol and Regulation EU 511/2014 on 14 February in Leuven, Belgium. It is designed for practitioners looking for practical background information for adapting their way of working to guarantee compliance. More information can be found here. EuropaBio members are entitled to a reduced registration fee.



Get ready for JP Morgan week by watching yesterday’s BIA webinar below, including who is attending, what is going on, and how to make the most out of your time in San Francisco during one of the busiest biotech weeks in the calendar.

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

Happy New Year and many thanks to all of you who have congratulated me on my OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list.   It’s humbling and a privilege to be recognised. The New Year Honours list included a number of people in the life sciences sector. Professor Shankar Balasubramanian, Herchel Smith Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, University of Cambridge and scientific founder of Solexa and Cambridge Epigenetix, and Dr James Smith, lately, Director of Research, Francis Crick Institute, received Knighthoods. Professor Amanda Fisher, Director, Medical Research Council Clinical Sciences Centre, Imperial College London, has become a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Michael Pragnell, Chairman, Cancer Research UK has become a Commander of the Order of the British Empire and Dr Hakim Yadi, chief executive of the Northern Health Science Alliance, has become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire along with Cyril Chantler, UCL Partners, Stephen Inglis of NIBSC and Peter Weissberg, formerly with the British Heart Foundation.  Geneticist Prof Sir Alec Jeffreys was also appointed to the very select group of outstanding achievers who hold the title Companion of Honour.

The Sector leaps back into action next week as many of you will be joining me in at one of the life science industry’s largest conferences of the year, JP Morgan, which brings together thousands of investors and executives from around the world to San Francisco where companies present their latest innovations hoping to find their next partner or investor.  The conference takes place 9-13 January 2017 at the Westin St Francis Hotel, 335 Powell Street.

To prepare you on British interest during the week as usual, BIA will be running a webinar –this  Thursday 5 January, 11-11.45am – providing the latest information on who is attending, what is going on, and how to make the most out of your time in San Francisco during one of the busiest Biotech weeks in the calendar.  Sign up to the webinar by registering on this page.

Biotech Showcase takes place alongside JP Morgan at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square 9-11 January 2017. I will be chairing a panel discussion on the real threats and opportunities of Brexit on Monday 9 January from 11-12pm at the conference.  Panellists will include Lord Prior (UK Department of Health), Eliot Forster (MedCity), Chris Mayo (LSE Group) and Alison Dennis (Fieldfisher LLP).  For further details on Biotech Showcase and the panel, visit the website.

BIA and co-sponsors (MedCity, DIT, LSE, Fieldfisher LLP, London & Partners) will be hosting a UK networking event on the evening of Monday 9 January at the Marines Memorial Club (Heritage Room, 10th Floor), 609 Sutter Street (next to JW Marriott SF Union Square).  Put the date in your diary and we will see you there!

If you haven’t yet registered for Biotech Showcase, please visit the BioPartner site for information on discounts available to ULS members.

We will update you on all of the action from San Francisco in newscast and follow our twitter feed for live updates and pictures from the conference.

At the end of the month we have the BIA Gala Dinner and there are still a limited number of tickets left so please book online as soon as possible if you would like to secure one of the final places for what promises to be an excellent event. A silent auction will run throughout the evening raising funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK who we recently announced as our charity of the year.

In the afternoon before the Gala Dinner, the BIA and Osborne Clarke invite you to join biotechnology companies and investors for an audience with the authors of Science, the State and the City, a book about the history of Britain’s industrial strategy for biotechnology.

The event provides BIA Corporate members and investors a space to work, enjoy some refreshments and network in-between the morning’s Future of Healthcare Investor Forum at the London Stock Exchange and the evening’s BIA Gala Dinner. The venue is a short 5-10 minute walk from both locations.

At 15:30 there will be an audience with the former Editor of the Financial Times, Geoffrey Owen, and Senior Lecturer in biomedical innovation at the University of Sussex, Dr Michael Hopkins, to talk about their book Science, the State and the City and discuss with you the future of Britain’s industrial strategy –  followed by a wine reception. You can find out more about the event on the BIA website.