Kit Malthouse at BIA event

We have another incredibly busy week coming up at the BIA. Thursday is the busiest day of our year. First we have Parliament Day, and this year more than 30 member company CEOs will be meeting with more than 20 senior politicians and civil servants. Second, that evening is our 18th Annual Gala Dinner. This year’s event has attracted the biggest attendance ever, so it’s shaping up to be a great evening even if we will be a cosier than usual. I look forward to seeing you there.

Last Tuesday I attended the Empower Access to Medicines campaign meeting to discuss speeding up access to medicines for patients most in need. I was pleased to hear Department of Health Minister Earl Howe’s thoughts on government’s plans for introducing an Early Access to Medicines scheme, which is something the BIA has long campaigned for, and that their thinking was “at an advanced stage” with “active discussion across Whitehall” about the introduction of a new “promising innovation medicine” designation as part of their proposed scheme. The MHRA later confirmed their plans to BioCentury.

On Thursday we co-hosted, with Consilium Strategic Communications, Panmure Gordon and Pinsent Masons, an event to showcase some of the exciting privately owned biotech companies in the UK to potential generalist public market investors. The aim of the event was to provide the wider investor community with further insight and understanding of the quality of firms, science and management teams in the sector. Kit Malthouse, London’s Deputy Mayor for Business (pictured above), provided a great introduction and highlighted the opportunities for investors in our strategically vital sector. The six presenting companies, Creabilis, Cytox, Endomagnetics, Glide Pharma, Prosonix and Redx Pharma, showed the strength and variety of busineeses growing in the UK at the moment. We are considering doing more in this area and I’d welcome member feedback on how we can do this optimally.

Also on Thursday, the BIA, along with our LifeSciencesUK partners ABHI, ABPI and BIVDA, published a report on the government’s performance in the first two years of its Strategy for UK Life Sciences. The review found that eight out of the 13 initiatives reviewed have made notable progress towards the actions and commitments set out in the original strategy, but there is still much more work to do to meet the strategy’s original objectives. From the biotech point of view, the Biomedical Catalyst has been well received by companies across the bioscience sector, the Cell Therapy Catapult is helping cell therapy organisations a translate early stage research into commercially viable and investable therapies and the National Biologics Manufacturing Centre will provide a valuable resource for the development of new technologies. However, the failure to introduce a fully funded Early Access to Medicines Scheme, which will allow UK patients to benefit from the most promising new treatments, needs to be addressed immediately.

Dan Mahony of Polar Capital joined me for my January member webinar last week. Dan provided an expert recap of the previous week’s JP Morgan Conference and trends to watch for 2014. If you didn’t catch the webinar or would like to watch it again, it is here.