In the week that Circassia listed on the London Stock Exchange (pictured) I was pleased to see that there was much for the life science sector to cheer when the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, set out the 2014 Budget. One of the most significant is the commitment of £55 million over five years to establish a large scale cell therapy manufacturing centre managed by the Cell Therapy Catapult. This meets one of the key recommendations in the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee’s report into regenerative medicines and is one of the things we had called for in our Budget submission. I would like to congratulate Keith Thompson and his team at the Cell Therapy Catapult for their work in making the case for the centre and I look forward to working alongside them as the centre develops.
The Chancellor also announced a number of other measures that should benefit companies in the bioscience sector including an increase in the R&D Tax Credit for loss making SMEs from 11% to 14.5%, making the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme permanent, doubling the annual investment allowance for companies to £500,000 and introducing changes to the rules for Enterprise Investment Scheme and Venture Capital Trusts. My monthly webinar on Thursday will provide an overview of our thoughts on the Budget.
Also on Wednesday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) launched its adaptive licensing pilot project and is inviting companies to participate. Adaptive licensing could be a possible way that patients with unmet medical need could get access to new medicines. The introduction of an adaptive licensing pilot project was a recommendation of the Expert Group on innovation in the regulation of healthcare and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has taken a leading role on this agenda. I would encourage members to respond to the Agency’s call for participation in the pilot project.
During National Science Week Understanding Animal Research launched its Open Labs project. The three-year programme will enable hundreds of school children to tour animal research facilities, meet scientists and veterinarians, and see the animals at the centre of the research. UCL was the first facility to open its doors to students and a further eight universities and research centres also took part during the week. I would encourage industry research labs to participate in the project.
Finally, we had a terrific response to our first manifesto question on the Biomedical Catalyst and I’d like to thank everyone who provided a clear steer to us about how to proceed with government on this important source of funding. Our second question is on technology transfer: Do you think the next government should take action to better align the incentives in tech transfer, including asking university and tech transfer offices to more actively consider IP ‘clearing houses’? You will have an early opportunity to discuss these and other issues at the next free-to-attend BIA breakfast networking meeting on Wednesday 26 March at Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, Hertfordshire.