BIA Entrepreneur of the Year presentation

I hope everyone that attended enjoyed our Gala Dinner last Thursday. This year the BIA Board decided to recognise an entrepreneur who has achieved a level of success that we all aspire to. At the Gala Dinner BIA Chairman, Edward Hodgkin, presented the BIA Entrepreneur of the Year award to Peter Wrighton-Smith of Oxford Immunotec. Peter has led and built Oxford Immunotec from university spin-out to sustainable revenue-generating business – the kind of business that epitomises the UK’s bioscience industry.

I was delighted that we could present our Charity of the Year, Fight for Sight, with a cheque for £31,000. I’d like to thank everyone for their table donations, auction bids and pledges. I think that we all learned from Mark Robert’s speech how much difference research into medically unmet vision impairment could make to families such as his.

We chose to support Fight for Sight this year because they are committed to funding pioneering research to prevent sight loss and treat eye disease. And, on the day of the Gala Dinner Syncona Partners announced it has invested £12 million in a new spinout from the University of Oxford, NightStaRx, which will be led by Melanie Lee and will focus on the development and commercialisation of therapies for degenerative conditions affecting vision. NightstarRx, our newest BIA member company, will commercialise research that was initially funded by the Tommy Salisbury Choroideremia Fund at Fight for Sight.

Also on Thursday 35 senior BIA members attended our 14th annual Parliament Day. The day was hectic as ever and we met over 20 senior ministers, MPs, civil servants and other policy makers to outline our key policy asks for 2014. It proved to be a very fruitful day with a number of positive outputs for further action. We also a very successful Parliamentary lunch jointly with the AMRC where we were able to showcase the collaborations that take place between medical research charities and bioscience companies.

I’m looking forward to discussing sector financing alongside John Brown from the Scottish Lifesciences Association and Sinclair Dunlop, Managing Partner, Rock Spring Ventures at the Edinburgh BioQuarter lunch this Friday. I hope to see some of you there.