Science_in_City_2014_Christian_Groendahl_600_300It was great to see so many of you at our Science and Finance in the City reception hosted by Kit Malthouse, the Deputy Mayor of London, last Thursday. It was particularly special that on the night our newest member Kymab were able to reveal their successful new £40 million raise – including the largest ever investment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s investment arm; CEO Dr Christian Grøndahl is pictured above. It was a busy evening for UK life science elsewhere too as the OBR OneStart award for a European start up company went to EVA Diagnostics of London, who not only win £100,000 and space at the Stevenage Biocatalyst but also a year’s free membership of the BIA. They are developing AnemiStat, a low cost, portable device which diagnoses different types of anaemia. And congratulations are also due to BIA members Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, UCB, GSK, LGC UK and Actavis UK for their leading roles in developing the skills base of our sector, rightly recognised at the Cogent Life Science Skills Awards.

Keeping members at the forefront of regulatory developments is a mission of the BIA and I’m delighted that we are able to offer the opportunity for BIA members to be the first to gain a real understanding of the EMA’s adaptive licensing pathway. We’ve teamed up with the ABPI and the Centre for the Advancement of Sustainable Medical Innovation (CASMI) to offer a one stop shop which will enable you to find out all you need to know in a convenient half day in just two weeks’ time on the morning of 2 June. All the key players will be there including Hans Georg Eichler of the EMA as well as the UK government, MHRA, NICE and CASMI who can explain why the UK is well set to be able to pioneer this opportunity.

The MRC have shortlisted an interesting bunch of nine academic applicants for their disease-focused stratified medicine consortia, who are now required to submit full applications by 17 July 2014. The MRC are calling on the UK research community – clinical, academic and industry – to join these consortia, with the aim that each consortium should provide an inclusive, internationally competitive, dynamic platform for research that will create opportunities for further funding and collaboration and develop clinically valuable therapeutic and diagnostic outputs. This is a good opportunity for BIA members given that existing consortia have each received support from the MRC to the tune of £4.3 million on average. Further details on the the MRC’s flexible model for supporting academic-industrial collaborations can be found on the MRC Industry Collaboration Application webpage, and Dr Jonathan Pearce, Translational Programme Manager at the Medical Research Council is the key contact.

Neil Woodford’s plans to launch his new fund are gathering pace. The long term UK biotech investor’s new venture is now up and running following the recruitment of a range of managers and support staff, and he is expected to launch his new Woodford Equity Income fund on 2 June. The offer period for investors will then run until the 19 June, and the fund will start trading on 20 June after the offer period closes.

So as you can see lots of great things moving our sector forward – as I’ve stressed to politicians of all colours this week – beyond the headlines of Pfizer’s offer to AstraZeneca.