Archives for the month of: May, 2013

Julian Huppert MP to hold parliamentary debate on science and research on 4 June
This week Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert has secured a parliamentary debate to help push science and research up the government’s agenda. The Cambridge MP has said that the debate, on Tuesday will focus on the policy paper he wrote detailing a package of measures to support pure and applied research and development and the need for more and sustained government funding for science and research. I’m hopeful that the need for the continuation of the Biomedical catalyst is also raised in the debate as government funding of science, research and early stage companies is crucial for our sector and Julian’s efforts to drive this issue forwarded should be applauded by us all.

As the proposed EU Clinical Trials Regulation passes increasingly slowly through the legislatory “sausage machine”, last week’s vote in the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety marked a key step along the path to approval. The committee approved an amended draft of the regulation, which is designed to replace the existing directive with simpler, more harmonised rules. I am in Brussels today (Monday 1 June) discussing industry concerns about several issues in the amended text with the heads of other European biotech associations and EuropaBio. It is also becoming apparent that on present timescales this whole process may not complete before the next European Parliament elections and therefore fall. That’s why we are highlighting the changes in the Voluntary Harmionisation Procedure (VHP) recently agreed by the Clinical Trials Facilitation Group that make an immediate practical difference to members in the future planning multi-national trials.

I am looking forward to our joint conference with the MHRA on Wednesday. We have an excellent line-up of speakers and I hope to see you there.


Sarah BrummitWhat do Kate Middleton, Theresa May, Angelina Jolie and Helen Mirren have in common? All of them were suggested as well-dressed personalities in the public sphere, at a recent BIA Women in Biotech networking event at the offices of law firm Shepherd & Wedderburn overlooking St Paul’s cathedral. Training, coaching and branding expert Sarah Brummit presented an engaging seminar to 36 attendees on ‘The Well Dressed Woman’, covering the business rationale behind image and key principles to dressing well.

Sarah pointed out that although strategising how to dress is easily disparaged, the vast majority (83%) of independently surveyed respondents say that image is important or extremely important to professional perception. This is not a case of style over substance of course – the underlying assumption is that you also do your job well – but dressing effectively is a powerful tool for maximising your confidence, regardless of gender, age, weight, height, or role.

Focussing on Michelle Obama as her chosen example of a well-dressed public figure, Sarah emphasised that if an outfit looks bad it’s the clothes, not the body, that are the problem. When it comes to dressing well, people shouldn’t worry about size – selecting clothes that suit your body shape will make all the difference. For example, she said when looking at silhouettes straight on, if you have curvy hips and a defined waist you should wear light-weight fabrics to skim the curves, whereas if you have a less defined difference between hips and waist (in which case Sarah said you probably have great legs) then more structured clothes in firmer fabrics will help to add shape.

Using optical illusions was another of her key principles to dressing effectively. Adding texture or detailing in the right places can visually ‘balance’ a body shape and using highly contrasting colours where your best features are will accentuate them. Dark colours, continuity of colour, and asymmetric hemlines can act as camouflage, as can ensuring that your accessories are in the right scale for your body – for example a very large bag will ‘shrink’ a small person.

Another tip to finding colours that suit you is to look closely for the different colours in your eyes, as any of these should suit you and wearing them near your face (in jewellery, glasses, scarves or tops) will accentuate your eyes and flatter your overall look.

The Well Dressed Woman seminar

For many of the attendees Sarah’s key take-home message was that ‘fit is king’; clothes should fit you so that when you are stood up there are no horizontal creases (too tight) or vertical folds (too loose). Items that don’t fit you should not be in your wardrobe. Rather than buying more clothes one alternative Sarah suggested is to spend a little money to have your own clothes altered to fit you well.

Following the seminar the attendees carried on the discussion and Sarah offered some general and specific tips at a networking drinks reception, bringing together representatives from across the sector for a fruitful and enjoyable evening.

For information on BIA events see our events pages including our Women in Biotech page.

Katherine PriestleyLast month Park Vale Capital, a UK based regulated asset management company focused on late stage biotechnology investment deals, announced an agreement with The Academy of Medical Sciences to facilitate advice from its Fellows to our investment team to help drive the translation of research into health benefits. Katherine Priestley, Managing Partner of Park Vale Capital, explains more.

Adequate investment from a range of sources is essential fuel for the innovation pipeline. At Park Vale our experienced biotechnology investment professionals are addressing a particular investment gap through investing in late stage companies with novel medical products and innovations and are actively bringing these companies to commercial success within two years of investments, often more quickly.

Venture capital investment in the biosciences sector is currently under severe constraint exacerbated by the financial crisis of 2008. There has been widespread reduction in new capital available as many traditional fiduciary investors have moved away from this sector due to the long time frames needed to bring biomedical innovations to market and the uncertainty of outcomes. In the short term there is an urgent need for fresh capital and a more sophisticated approach to complete successful late stage projects to deliver innovations to the patient population. The combining of the strengths of the Fellows of the Academy and the investment expertise and industry network of Park Vale Capital to work together on late stage company deals is very timely.

Park Vale has already begun to engage with selected Fellows on active deals in their pipeline. Fellows are chosen for their specialist knowledge and experience, as they relate to target companies; and the initial conversation with Fellows is intended to be brief but robust around the subject matter. Participation by Fellows is optional. Over time, through lecture programmes and meetings, Park Vale is actively seeking to engage Fellows in the discussion of the practices and processes required to drive successful science to commercial success.

The Park Vale investment managers have been successfully investing in biotechnology companies for decades and have participated in the changing investment cycles from the public and private markets predominantly in the US and Europe, including the UK, but also Asia. Park Vale has a strong network of relationships in the UK Biotechnology market and is seeking to make investments in UK companies as part of its portfolio of assets. In addition to direct company investments, Park Vale is focused on greater international collaboration in research and drug development and can also help facilitate the transfer of knowledge and new products to the UK market.

We are committed to the principle of stronger working and communication links between the excellent UK Academic Science base, global fiduciary investment capital and industry, to drive quicker and better outcomes in the translation of science for the benefit of all our communities. By establishing our partnership with the Academy of Medical Science we are hopeful that this proves to be the first of many successful initiatives in this regard.

BIA Business Solutions

BIA Business Solutions

At the BIA we understand that every penny counts and that’s why we continue to add, fine tune and deliver tangible member-led benefits that make a real difference. For example the BIA business solutions programme that we introduced last year, working in partnership with VWR International and Amici Procurement is delivering significant savings for many members. It’s really easy to for us to assess the potential savings so please do contact me for an initial discussion and assessment on the savings that you could access through the programme. We have also recently signed an agreement with OAMPS Special Risks who are offering new clients a healthy discount on their broker fees so please don’t hesitate to contact Alastair Carrington to receive further information. As they say, every little helps!

The BIA, as an accredited trade organisation works very closely with UKTI to lead and deliver missions to global conferences and events (as we did recently for BIO in Chicago). In the coming months we will be leading either ourselves or in partnership with BioPartner missions to the following events and will be able to assist companies with accessing grants and support – Biopartnering Latin America, Ausbiotech, BIO China, BioEurope and Synbiobeta. Please contact me for more information on any of these events and how to take advantage of financial support to attend them.

I’d also like to extend a personal invitation to the upcoming BIA CEO and Investor Forum on 11 July (starting with an evening dinner on 10 July), this year being held at Down Hall in Hertfordshire. With its mixture of analysis and insight into the sector’s key issues the Forum will be an excellent way to gain insight into how to add value to your company. Regardless of what’s going on elsewhere, the sector has much to celebrate, from the successful Biomedical Catalyst scheme and news on exits, to significant fundraising and even signs of life in the IPO market. Add in a large medicinal dose of networking and you have an excellent one day event before the summer break. Please contact Cathy Smyth to reserve your place or for more information. I look forward to seeing many of you there.

Lastly calling all golfers, please do sign up for the inaugural BIA charity golf event on 28 June in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, the BIA’s chosen charity of the year.

Have a great week.

Best regards
Karen Chandler-Smith

Cogent image

This month saw a celebration of the bioscience sector’s dedication to developing talent at the inaugural Life Science Skills Awards organised by Cogent – the strategic skills body for the science industries. BIA members Eden Biodesign, Amgen, UCB, University of Southampton and Takeda were among the award winners. One service offered by Cogent to bioscience companies of all sizes is the Life Science Placements Service, which is seeking opportunities to match students with more employers. Pauline Maden, manager of the service, explains the scheme and its benefits for potential employers.

The Life Sciences Industry Placement Service is designed to support employers looking to host industrial placements. Through three key areas; attraction, recruitment and development, Cogent can significantly enhance the placements experience and provide employers with the talented people that their business is looking for.

Cogent is here to help employers to develop home grown excellence and significantly improve the employability skills of graduates in the Life Sciences sector.

We work with businesses that are new to industrial placements through to experienced hosts and businesses that are looking to try a different approach.

The Service Explained….

As a life sciences employer you may receive lots of speculative enquiries about placements and internships, yet taking on a placement student or graduate can seem like one more task that you haven’t really got time for. However, there are many reasons why you should consider offering placements; with the right guidance, providing such opportunities can be very rewarding for employers.

Cogent’s goal is to reverse the declining number of placements offered by industry, making it easier for employers to become hosts.

Step1: The placements team will get a better understanding of your business to help us find you the brightest student talent, most suitable to make a real contribution to your business objectives.

Step2: The second stage involves developing a project plan – based around the job description. Cogent will develop this in conjunction with the employer. Doing this ensures that the placement student is given certain tasks to carry out to support your business and their own personal development.

Step3: Cogent will advertise the placement vacancy online, within university departments to reach the top student and graduate talent and through Cogent’s social media channels.

Step4: Cogent will sift through the applications, build a candidate database, present you with the CVs of the most suitable candidates and following that will advise unsuccessful candidates on your behalf.

Step5: For employers who have issues with headcount, Cogent can employ the placement student on your behalf and deal with all HR and payroll functions.

Following the successful recruitment of your placement student you can expect to hear from us at agreed intervals to ensure that everything is going well.

All placements are paid and students on a year-long placement typically earn between £15,000 and £23,000 per year.

The business case for hosting industrial placements

The value of industrial placements to students and universities is widely recognised, yet the benefits to the host employer can sometimes be underestimated.

  •  Talent pipeline: Industrial placements are required by universities and students to help develop the employability skills in undergraduates. By hosting a placement you a contributing to the development of a future talent pool with the capabilities that the Sector needs.
  •  Future skills: Industrial placements can lead directly to a full-time position, saving you time and the costs associated with recruitment that can have an uncertain outcome.
  •  Staff development: To host an industrial placement we recommend that you nominate a mentor for the student or graduate. This can also be an opportunity for you to develop leadership, coaching and mentoring skills for the nominated mentor or supervisor.
  •  Experience: Industrial placement students will have completed at least two years of their degree course, in which time they have developed skills that will allow them to perform important duties for the host employer.

Contact us: If you would like to talk through the placements service please don’t hesitate to contact us on

Kit Malthouse

Kit Malthouse

Kit Malthouse is London’s Deputy Mayor for Business & Enterprise and the Co-chair of the London Enterprise Panel. He writes here about the Growing Places Fund and its potential benefit for life science companies. 

Earlier this month, the London Enterprise Panel (LEP) published its jobs and growth strategy.  It sets out the key priority sectors in which City Hall will be investing, and I am proud that we have given life sciences such a prominent place in the strategy.  I would encourage all the BioIndustry Association’s members to look at the documents and consider whether LEP funding would be right for your business.

Our vision is to realise the potential of London’s world class science and technology community to drive innovation, jobs and growth. London’s ability to innovate and adapt will be critical to staying ahead in the global economy. The City’s science and technology sectors are some of the most productive sectors of the economy. In 2009 these sectors contributed 14% of London’s GVA from just 6% of employment.

The Growing Places Fund is a £111 million revolving capital fund which was allocated to London in 2012. A key component of the work of the LEP will be to advise the Mayor and me on how and where we should spend the Growing Places Fund. The revolving capital fund will be used to help establish financially sustainable projects, and will target projects which represent good value for money.

The first round of funding in London had a total of £41m available. The LEP received 16 bids of a value of £150m. Of these, ten were for infrastructure projects (seven of which specifically related to transport projects).  The Round 2 fund will concentrate on projects which fall into three LEP priority areas, with the skills and employment agenda being relevant across all areas.  The deadline for submitting bids to the LEP for Round 2 is 2 July 2013, so I would encourage you to look at the documents and consider making contact with our teams at City Hall to see if this enterprise is the right fit for your business.

BIA Biomedical Cayalyst infographic

BIA Biomedical Cayalyst infographic

Last week the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) published its Delivery Plan for 2013-14. This plan sets out the wide variety of programmes that the TSB runs that may help innovative UK life science businesses grow more quickly. I encourage you to take a look at the opportunities provided particularly in health and high value manufacturing and we have developed a grid for members which highlights the most relevant.

Although some groups were suggesting the contrary last week, it is important to understand that the TSB Delivery Plan does not include any extension to (or new money for) the Biomedical Catalyst (BMC). The £30 million for the BMC referred to in the document simply sets out the remaining money that is available to be spent this year from the pre-announced existing allocation. The BIA expect it to be allocated to applicants in the third round of the BMC currently under assessment which we expect to be announced in July.

Last week, the BIA presented its Spending Review submission to government urging the Chancellor to provide for a consistent, year on year funding allocation to the Biomedical Catalyst.

This comes alongside the publication of a new BIA infographic which draws together some new data on the first two rounds of funding through the Biomedical Catalyst. This shows the positive impact the scheme is already making. Perhaps the key figure to highlight is that already over £50 million of private capital has been leveraged into the UK to support those projects which have been funded supporting businesses, jobs and growth.

Congratulations to our Regulatory Affairs Advisory Committee on a key breakthrough as revisions to the Voluntary Harmonisation Procedure (VHP) for multinational clinical trials applications have been introduced. The BIA has advocated for these changes for a number of years and is delighted that they are making a practical difference to companies. The VHP is a voluntary procedure agreed by the Clinical Trials Facilitation Group (CTFG), a working group of the EU Heads of Medicines Agencies, and these new revisions provide a major breakthrough in getting a harmonised regulatory decision on a clinical trial to be performed in more than one EU Member State. The changes should make getting new innovative medicines to patients quicker and easier.

The winner of the SR One/OBR One Start competition is Puridify a spinout from University College London looking to commercialise a more efficient use of purification chemistries. I would like to congratulate them and look forward to welcoming them to BIA membership as part of their prize alongside the £100,000 from SR One. On the same evening Cogent held the inaugural Life Sciences Skills Awards and many BIA members were nominated for awards. I am delighted that several awards were won by our members: Eden Biodesign won the Employer (small) of the year Award, Amgen won the Employer (global) of the year Award, Hannah Compton of UCB won the Undergraduate of the year Award, Dario Carugo of University of Southampton won the postgraduate of the year Award and Linda Millett of Takeda won the Outstanding Leadership in Skills Award. Congratulations to all of them.

Finally, at the first meeting of our recently joined synthetic biology members we discussed a work plan for this group and have decided to establish a Synthetic Biology Advisory Committee which will be chaired by Tim Fell of Synthace.


The BIA has submitted a response to government ahead of the Spending Review which the Chancellor is due to deliver on 26 June 2013. This will cover the 2015/16 period and along with the BIA a number of other organisations within the sector are submitting views also collectively raising the importance of government support for UK medical research. As with the previous spending review in 2010 we hope that by having a coherent and unified voice a positive settlement for the sector can be achieved.

Of particular importance for the BIA’s members and life science businesses is the Biomedical Catalyst (BMC) scheme. The BIA have urged the government to take the opportunity provided by the Spending Review to refill the funding allocation for the BMC in a consistent year-on-year funding settlement to support the translation of innovative medical research in the UK.

BMC-infogThis submission comes alongside the publication of a new BIA infographic which draws together some new data on the first two rounds of funding through the BMC. This shows the positive impact the BMC is already making. Perhaps the key figure to highlight is that already over £50 million of private capital has been leveraged into the UK to support those projects which have been funded supporting businesses, jobs and growth,.

The infographic also gives information about the type of therapeutic areas being supported by the BMC, the regional breakdown, what stages the majority of funding is going towards etc. It shows again that the BMC is making a positive impact on bioscience, accelerating medical research and leveraging private capital.

The BMC forms the core ask of government in the BIA’s spending review submission. Government support across the development pipeline, whether through funding of the excellent research base, grant funding, or through the tax system, is of fundamental importance to the competitiveness of the UK as a location for the translation of medical research and development. In a recent survey BIA members rated the Technology Strategy Board as the government organisation with the most direct relevance and of most importance to their business. The Medical Research Council and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council were also highly regarded.

The need to maximise economic impact and leverage private capital has been cited as key measurements of government’s support of research and the BMC in particular offers a blueprint of a successful policy intervention that is cost effective in delivering upon those aims. It is important that the scheme receives further funding so that it can continue to support UK innovation beyond the third round.

Alderley Park

Alderley Park

When AstraZeneca announced the restructuring of its R&D in the UK a few weeks ago, their decision to close R&D in Alderley Park came as a big shock to the life sciences sector in the North West. I was pleased to see that a bio-incubator will be launched at the site with RedX Pharma planning to recruit over 100 researchers to work there.

The BIA has made the running in advocating for a competitive business environment for bioscience companies in the UK and I am concerned that the benefits of initiatives such as the patent box and R&D tax credits, which can provide considerable benefits to companies in our sector, may get caught up in a debate about how accountancy firms operate. As a sector we need to discuss, agree and set our posture as to how we might best position ourselves so that the hard work we have done is having a beneficial effect on companies and UK competitiveness is not lost through a debate which is to one side of the main issue. I hope that you can join this debate at Hot Issues Curry Night on 20 June.

Another opportunity to discuss the key issues for our sector will be at our BIA CEO and Investor Forum in July. The event will start with a fireside chat with Patrick Verheyen, who leads the J&J Innovation Centre in London, on his perspectives about the future for R&D and the sector over the next decade.

Last week I held my monthly CEO webinar, which you can now view on our blog. I discussed some key current issues for the BIA and our members including clinical trials transparency and the European court cases, the Patent Box, the Queen’s speech, early access to medicines, the Biomedical Catalyst and upcoming BIA events.

This week we are holding our first meeting for our recently established synthetic biology group. At the meeting we aim to flesh out what we can best achieve for this developing part of our sector and what our priorities should be.

Also, I will be attending the “Investing in medical research for the UK’s future” breakfast at the House of Commons to hear Sir Paul Nurse, Dr Harpal Kumar, Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK, and Professor Patrick Vallance from GlaxoSmithKline, discuss how government investment in life sciences research benefits people in the UK and the economy.


Steve Bates, BIA Chief Executive Officer, provides an update on the key issues for the BIA and its members including clinical trials transparency and the European court cases, the Patent Box, the Queen’s speech, early access to medicines, the Biomedical Catalyst and upcoming BIA events.