The UK synbio delegation at Agilent Technologies

Last week I joined the UK’s first ever Synthetic Biology Trade Mission to San Francisco and the Bay area. It’s thanks to the BIA that UKTI supported this mission and it’s great to see our emerging companies making contact with and doing business with Californian counterparts. The UK roadmap in synbio is attracting real interest in the USA and we are perceived as a UK community – academic, policy and business – to be well positioned and on a roll. The photo above shows the UK group at Agilent Technologies. A highlight was meeting Steve Jurveston of DFJ Venture (the man who backed Tesla electric cars) who is a keen supporter of the sector. I’m also delighted that the next SynBioBeta conference will be in London next April so we’ll be able to both host the global synbio community and showcase UK companies.

We submitted our Autumn Statement submission to HM Treasury last week. It reflects the needs of our member companies and calls on the government to consider introducing Citizens’ Innovation Funds (CIFs), implement a properly funded Earlier Access to medicines Scheme (EAS), and to work towards improving access to the public markets by bioscience companies. The government will announce its Autumn Statement on 5 December. In fact, urging government to launch an Early Access to Medicines Scheme as soon as possible was the number one recommendation of the Report of the Expert Group on Innovation in the Regulation of Healthcare, which was published on Friday by the MHRA. The Expert Group, on which the BIA’s Christiane Abouzeid has been working hard, was set up following the Prime Minister’s 2011 Strategy for UK Life Sciences.

I was delighted to see last week that AstraZeneca would be making a £120 million commitment to medicines manufacturing in the UK. The commitment comes at a time when other companies have reduced their UK capabilities and is particularly timely as next week the results of a project looking at how the government and industry can work together to enhance the medicines manufacturing landscape in the UK will be presented to the Ministerial Industry Strategy Group. Our Manufacturing Advisory Committee has been highly engaged in the process and I believe the recommendations of the project working group will lead to a stronger medicines manufacturing industry in the UK.

Finally, later today (Monday at 16.10 and repeated at 17.40) I will be on the RNIB’s Insight Radio talking about why the BIA chose Fight for Sight as its charity partner for 2014. Do take a few minutes to listen in.

Best ,

Steve