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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.

Best,
Steve