As expected, last Wednesday the government announced £93 million of support for the life sciences sector. This included almost £26 million to enable innovative life science projects through the third round of the Biomedical Catalyst, £38 million for the National Biologics Manufacturing Centre, which will be located in Darlington, and £29 million of funding from the Technology Strategy Board for research in stratified medicine, tuberculosis and regenerative medicine and cell therapy.

For the Biomedical Catalyst, the Medical Research Council and the Technology Strategy Board will invest £16 million in business-led projects leveraging in at least £13 million from other investors. Additionally almost £10 million is being invested in academic-led projects. Winning companies come from across the country and include firms from Manchester, Scotland, Wales, Oxford, Cambridge and London. It’s great to see this support for the sector and BIA members directly benefitting from the scheme.

We have updated our one-side infographic which summarises the Biomedical Catalyst funding to date with the new data and we have some analysis of the Biomedical Catalyst on our blog. The fourth round of the competition is open now.

The National Biologics Manufacturing Centre (the new name for the project we have known hitherto as National Biologics Industry innovation Centre) is to be built in Darlington. The location decision has the full support of the Industry Steering Board which is comprised of BIA members including the deputy Chair of our Manufacturing Advisory Committee. I’m delighted that we have had such strong member engagement in the development of the centre thus far both with the Technology Strategy Board and the Centre for Process Innovation, who will manage the National Biologics Manufacturing Centre. The thinking is still to develop a hub and spoke model for the centre so I expect the next step – now the hub location has been set – will be to work out the role and locations for the spokes. The centre will help the UK capture more of the expanding global market in high value, high quality manufacture of biologic medicines.

Also in the manufacturing space, the government’s Ministerial Industry Strategy Group has asked Roger Connor, President, Global Manufacturing and Supply, at GlaxoSmithKline, and Martin Williams, BIS Director with responsibility for Office for Life Sciences, to lead a project looking at the environment for medicines manufacture in the UK. The project will seek to develop ideas to make the UK an even more attractive location to manufacture medicines both for clinical trial and licensed product manufacture. It will cover the manufacture of all types of medicines including small molecules (pharmaceuticals), biologics and advanced therapies such as cell and gene therapies. This is a great opportunity for UK medicines manufacturing to get its agenda in front of ministers so I encourage you to contact me or Rob Winder with practical ideas that could make things easier for your business in this area.

Finally, our AGM will take place on 10 October and nominations for vacancies on our Board are now open. Contact Rowena Gardner for further information.