Archives for the month of: February, 2014

As part of our on-going commitment to promote its member success stories; each week we will be posting a video from our membership in order to celebrate the best of UK Lifescience.

This inaugural post features Bio Nano Consulting, a specialist contract research provider working in the UK life science and technology sectors.

The featured video highlights the issues associated with arsenic poisoning and the potential benefits of a new low cost field test being developed by Bio Nano Consulting, the Drink Safe device.

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

The BIA has made a submission ahead of the upcoming 2014 Budget which will take place on 19 March. In the interest of open and transparent policy-making the government welcomes innovative ideas, which will be considered by HM Treasury. The BIA has taken this opportunity to reflect upon the needs of our member companies and the sector. 

The sector is continuously growing and improving with significant investments made in research and development activities. The UK is renowned for its world leading research base, excelling in translating research. With significant public funding support, it is important to ensure such innovations can be supported towards a commercial market.

The UK remains the strongest bioscience cluster in Europe with 400 product candidates in development in 2012. It also remains the fundraising leader, both in terms of the €363 million capital raised and with 49 financing rounds led by significant public fundraisings as well as venture capital deals.

From the BIA / EY state of the nation report, 'UK - The strongest bioscience cluster in Europe'. Size of bubbles shows number of financings per country. Total capital raised is illustrated by lower edge of the bubble.

From the BIA / EY state of the nation report, ‘UK – The strongest bioscience cluster in Europe’. Size of bubbles shows number of financings per country. Total capital raised is illustrated by lower edge of the bubble.

With this in mind the BIA calls on government to:

  • Introduce Citizen’s Innovation Funds (CIFs). The BIA’s proposal would allow for a much needed alternative source of private growth capital and would enable members of the public to support innovative UK companies. The proposal is based on the successful French FCPI scheme where, for every one Euro spent by the French Exchequer in foregone income tax, five times as much capital has been raised.
  • Improve UK capital markets as a source of investment for innovative bioscience companies. A sustainable and viable route to attract the larger amounts of private capital needed to fund later stage clinical trials would allow innovative bioscience companies to grow independently. The government can help to achieve this by: actively supporting efforts to engage more generalist investors with bioscience and innovation; creating the incentives and framework required for this; increasing analyst coverage of the sector; and examining the JOBS Act in the US, which has helped stimulate public listings.
  • Introduce a centrally funded and reimbursed Earlier Access to Medicines Scheme to enhance the environment for medical research and clinical development, support innovative bioscience companies’ ability to take a product to market and improve patients’ access to innovative medicines.

The BIA welcomes moves which demonstrate the government’s commitment to innovative bioscience companies. For example, the Biomedical Catalyst, which marked the launch of the coalition government’s Strategy for UK Life Sciences, has been an effective biotech initiative, positively impacting the sector. The funding initiative has proven to be a vital asset in helping UK biotechs to see innovative ideas through the proof of concept stage and into clinical development.

We look forward to the announcement on the 19th of March.

If you would like to help us shape our future policy asks for the sector, we are keen to hear your views to feed in to developing our Life Science Manifesto.

SynBioBeta 2014

I’m looking forward to seeing around a hundred members at our London Breakfast this Wednesday morning. I hope this informal event will enable you to network effectively and catch up on some of the issues affecting our sector. R+D Tax credits, access to finance and the planned early access scheme often come up but I imagine we might discuss the decision by the NHS to delay the introduction of its system until the autumn. This has been hot news in the last couple of weeks I’m keen to get your views. More time for the public to learn about ‘information sharing, the benefits and their right to object’ is now ahead. I believe that the use of NHS patient data in clinical research will be a significant differentiator in maintaining the UK as an attractive global location for life science and I’m glad that lots of powerful voices from the UK science, clinical, research and patient community are joining together to help explain to the public how information can be used for medical research and will be kept safe.

If you are not in London this week I hope you can join my monthly webinar on Thursday. Alongside my regular policy update, I will be joined by Caroline Briggs, Managing Director, Amici Procurement. Caroline will help members understand how they can help grow their business effectively through using the BIA’s business solutions programme and Amici’s procurement solutions. Register on our website.

Looking further ahead on 3 April I will be speaking at the SynBioBeta conference in London. Last year a number of synthetic biology companies joined the BIA and we have been supporting them through our Synthetic Biology Advisory Committee and by supporting events such as SynBioBeta and the mission to the Bay Area last November, this is a great event to understand the vibrant UK company scene in this emerging area. For details of the discount for BIA members visit our website.


BIA Gala Dinner 2014

One of the topics our members have asked us to focus on this year is raising the profile of the sector in the City. Our showcase event last month was well received. At our BIA Breakfast in London on 26 February we will be joined by the healthcare team from JP Morgan who will provide their thoughts on how the market currently stands. I’d also like to draw your attention to an upcoming breakfast networking meeting on 26 March at Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst where the focus will be on the 2015-20 life sciences manifesto. We are working together with Bionow, BioPartner UK and One Nucleus to jointly develop the manifesto and we would like your support to help us move the sector forward effectively – this is your chance to get your voice heard and I look forward to seeing you there.

The government’s former life sciences adviser, George Freeman, MP last week launched a new grassroots campaign called Patients4Data in response to the resistance from certain parts of the press to the government’s initiative. George aims to make sure the benefits of medical data for Research, patient empowerment and NHS outcomes transparency are properly communicated to media, Parliament and public. You can sign up to support the campaign on its website.

I was pleased to see that a partnership including BioNow and the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst has received funding from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ Mentoring Challenge Fund. The partners will work with entrepreneurs and small biosciences companies over the next year, coaching them through important developmental steps. More information about their bespoke mentoring for the life sciences sector is available on the SBC website.

For my next webinar on 27 February I have the pleasure of having Caroline Briggs, Managing Director, Amici Procurement join us for an in depth analysis on how with Amici Procurement Solutions and the BIA business solutions programme, we can help your business grow effectively. Registration is available now. In advance of the webinar, Caroline has written a blog on the “Five deadly sins of purchasing” which provides an snapshot of various purchasing perils facing many of today’s biotech organisations.

Finally, we have posted the photos from our recent Gala Dinner on our blog. See if you can spot yourself.


Caroline_Briggs_AmiciCaroline Briggs is the Managing Director at Amici Procurement Solutions, with over twenty years experience in the industry she reveals here five key purchasing perils from within the biotechnology community, in partnership with the BIA business solutions programme

You’ve worked really hard to secure customers or investment for your company. Taking time to optimise your purchasing processes will reward you many times over to ensure your money is well spent and your resources are focused on the business objectives.

Having worked in the industry sector for twenty years, I know what organisations need to make the most of their procurement. Amici have fine-tuned PO to PAY processes to solve the five deadly sins of purchasing for our biotech customers…

Deadly Sin #1 – Wasted talent

You’ve recruited an amazing scientific team – tick. Do you then want them spending time negotiating discounts and chasing down orders when they could be discovering cures to life threatening and debilitating conditions?

There are lots of angles to purchasing, all of which require different skill sets. You need to be bolshie and pushy to get the best deals, yet need great administration to keep on top of the order process. In my experience it is better to separate the two roles as the administration will always swamp one person in a fast-moving SME.

Deadly Sin #2 – Taking a lackadaisical attitude

Create a company culture where cost is well managed and you’re well on your way to saving lots of money! We work with many companies and those with an eye on the cost have had significantly better prices.

Biotech’s are a far cry from the old Major Pharma but not everyone has woken up to this yet. Get to know what you spend and use all the buying power you can to get the best prices. The BIA Purchasing Programme is a great way to immediately gain the leverage of larger organisations.

Deadly Sin #3 – Financial control breakdown

Be clear about who is allowed to spend the company money and how you’re going to control supplier choice and authorisation. I once visited a company and had to step around boxes and boxes of HP paper, when quizzed, a Junior Scientist told me there had been an offer with Viking Office Supplies to get a free radio, coffee maker, all manner of random objects. The fact they had paid £10 per ream compared to the normal price of £1.75 had completely missed them. Who allowed this to happen?

Shopping around however, can also have hidden costs, sometimes it may not even be worth it when you consider the resource costs and it takes a minimum of 30 minutes of finance time to set up and pay a new supplier. Have you got the controls to avoid random supplier additions?

Deadly Sin #4 – Very inefficient processes

Why spend hours processing twenty invoices per month from a supplier when many are more than happy to send you just the one at the end of the month? Happily, this also extends your payment terms! It takes about 15 minutes to process an invoice. In this example, you could save Finance almost five hours per month by switching just one supplier to monthly invoicing.

There are untold processes involved in the PO to Pay process which can all be improved. How do you order commonly used items? How do you track and record spend? How do you limit the resource to create and approve a PO? How do you make sure the invoices match the PO first time? There’s a lot to consider.

Deadly Sin #5 – Over purchasing

Nothing stresses me out as much as waste! It’s frightening to calculate the cost of your facility per sq ft so you certainly don’t want to be wasting space and holding stock “just in case” when suppliers can typically deliver within 1-2 days and most will guarantee a reserve stock in your name at their cost.

Not only are you tying up cash, you might end up throwing away expired products or products you no longer use (just your fridge at home!). If you buy special kits at £1000 and suddenly stop your project then I’m afraid you’re stuck with it because the supplier is unlikely to take it back.

I need help! How do I find out more?

I will be running a webinar with Steve Bates, BIA CEO, 27 February, 11am, where I will be examining how Amici through the BIA business solutions programme can guarantee to save you time, money and resources.

Find out how we can help you grow your organisation effectively.

Register here.


There had been rumours for a number of months that a UK-based company has been planning to float on the London Stock Exchange and last week Circassia confirmed its plans. I am delighted to see this significant development for bioscience in the UK, which I hope will provide a boost for the whole sector. It is great to see public market investors in the UK showing an interest in potential bioscience IPOs. I hope that BIA member Circassia is the first of many. I was also pleased to see Circassia CEO and BIA Board member, Steve Harris (pictured), explain why the company chose to list in the UK rather than abroad: “We are a very British company. It’s run by British people, owned by Brits and based on British technology,” he said to the Daily Telegraph. “We are immensely proud of our heritage and look forward to building a leading, UK-based specialty biopharmaceutical company.”

Last week I was in Scotland and enjoyed the annual Scottish Enterprise annual Life Science dinner and awards. On Friday at the Edinburgh BioQuarter I spoke about UK government financing initiatives alongside John A. Brown from the Scottish Lifesciences Association and Sinclair Dunlop, Managing Partner, of Epidarex (the new name for Rock Spring Ventures). It was great to learn that Epidarex Capital has announced its first £4 million Series A investment, in Edinburgh Molecular Imaging (EMI). EMI is based upon the world-class translational research (spanning chemistry, biology, and medicine) of its three founders from the University of Edinburgh. It was also good to highlight the sixth round of the biomedical catalyst scheme to this under-represented part of the UK life science community and learn of the impact the Scottish Investment Bank is having for Scottish life science SMEs.

It was great to highlight that Roslin Cells, Pfizer, and 24 other partners last week launched a project to build a bank of induced pluripotent stem cells for research use by the community. The project is named ‘EBiSC’ or European bank for induced pluripotent stem cells and is funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative. In this early phase they are seeking to survey the biotech sector to understand what their needs might be as potential users and so they may help shape the design of the overall cell line catalogue. If you could help them, please complete this survey.

Also last week the coalition government published its pledges on how it is working to reduce the use of animals in scientific research. There are three key strands to its commitments: advancing the use of the 3Rs in UK, using international leadership to influence the uptake and adoption of 3Rs approaches globally, and promoting an understanding and awareness about the use of animals where no alternatives exist. The government’s commitment to reducing the number of animals used in scientific research is not focussed on baseline numbers, but encompasses the 3Rs more broadly and puts them at the heart of a science-led approach. On behalf of the bioscience sector I welcomed the government’s commitments to reducing the number of animals used in scientific research through a science-led approach to greater implementation and adoption of the 3Rs. However, I think that government must ensure that any actions it takes do not negatively impact the ability of British companies to continue to research and develop new products and technologies to address serious unmet medical needs and improve the lives of patients around the world. The commitments must also allow such British companies to operate globally and it is therefore essential that government continues to push for international harmonisation to the highest standards.