Stephen_Minger_lecture_600_300For those who had a Bank Holiday weekend I hope you enjoyed the weather. It already seems a long time since I saw over 250 of you at our inaugural BIA annual lecture given by Stephen Minger of GE Healthcare Life Sciences at Bloomberg last week, which was a great success. An interesting discussion followed from the Q&A on twitter here and we want your input on who we should ask to deliver this lecture next year.

Pfizer’s bid for AstraZeneca (both BIA members) has put our sector front and centre at Westminster this week. It now looks like both the Business and Science select committees will hold hearings on the potential takeover in the coming weeks. It’s at times like these that the BIA’s background work throughout the year, explaining the nature and strength of the sector and the importance of the UK remaining globally competitive, comes to the fore as parliamentarians engage in the debate from a position of some knowledge of the opportunity and importance of the sector and its global context. Whatever position parliamentarians take on this significant bid I am glad that they understand that our sector as a vital part of the economy that needs to be nurtured and supported. We will monitor and share developments with the community.

In stark contrast to the reporting of this business story the media last week covered but didn’t link key challenges of society in human health with what might actually make a difference. First it was great to see Cancer Research UK’s ambitious new research strategy and accompanying upbeat news about how far cancer treatment has developed in a generation. Fifty per cent of people diagnosed with cancer today will survive their disease for at least 10 years, whereas in the early 1970s just a quarter of people diagnosed with cancer survived 10 years. So their ambitious new strategy to accelerate progress – with the aim to raise that 10 year survival figure to 75 per cent of all cancer patients diagnosed in 20 years – is greatly welcomed. Second, it was good to see the WHO’s report on the challenge of antimicrobial resistance get significant airtime, including the need for new mechanisms and incentives to create the next generation of therapies to ensure we do not enter a post-antibiotic era. What was odd was the absence from these stories of any suggestion that there were companies big and small struggling daily to make a difference in these important areas.

Overlooked last week, in my view, was a new independent report for the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) showing that investing public money in science and engineering is good for the economy as a whole.

With more companies considering IPOs it great to see representation from our sector named in the first wave of the London Stock Exchange’s ELITE programme, including BIA member Euprotec, which helps companies get set for potential entry to the public market. CEO Lloyd Payne discusses Euprotec’s work and the ELITE programme here. There will be opportunities in the future for other life science companies to join the programme too.

Our Science and Finance in the City evening networking event at London’s City Hall is a week on Thursday, which provides a great location and a timely opportunity to meet colleagues in the sector and from the City at this particularly interesting time. Booking is still open so do sign up if you haven’t already and I look forward to seeing many of you there.