As you’ll see from our image this week the BIA has been named as a finalist in two categories of the Trade Association Best Practice Awards 2014, and I’m delighted that our achievements have been recognised by industry peers. We are finalists in the Sector Representation of the Year Award for our work lobbying for the continuation and re-filling of the Biomedical Catalyst scheme. In fact, just today David Willetts has announced that 33 business-led projects have been awarded funding in the Round 4 Early & Late and Round 5 Feasibility awards. And for the Bioscience Forum, which many of you tell us is a regular highlight in your calendar, we’re in the running for the Conference of the Year Award. Details of this year’s event on 7 October will be available very soon.
It was great to see a cross-section of the sector last Thursday at both our breakfast event in Oxford, where we had a useful discussion on the BIA’s position on animals in research ahead of our manifesto, and that evening at the launch of Hays Life Sciences’ report on sector salaries and employment benefits (request a copy here). I was intrigued to see our sector come out so highly in terms of both offering and valuing flexible working and would be interested in your views as to the drivers for this.
During the Queen’s speech on Wednesday we kept an eye out for anything that would particularly impact the sector, including the detail of proposed pension reforms. But there was little detail released on the day that moved the dial in our sector. If you’d like to read a general summary there’s a helpful one here. I’m interested to watch the development of the Pensions Bill (collective pensions have a different attitude to long-term and risk investing that could prove useful for our sector) and any practical support for bioscience businesses from the Entrepreneurs and Small Business Bill.
Following on from our recent explainer events on the Early Access to Medicines Scheme (EAMS) and the EMA’s adaptive licensing pilot, we have been maintaining our focus on regulation. On Thursday ten BIA member companies were represented at a roundtable discussion on EAMS hosted by the Prime Minister’s special adviser on health, bringing together key players from the sector, MHRA, NHS England and NICE together with policymakers to explore the sector’s perceptions of the scheme so far and any hurdles that might be overcome to encourage use of the scheme.
On the adaptive licensing front, just a week after our explainer event, the EMA announced on Friday that they have now received 20 applications to the scheme and have selected the first two medicines to be included in the pilot, with a further four applications as potential candidates which may be considered at a later stage and eleven currently being evaluated.
Elsewhere, news has focused on GSK’s $350 million cancer research deal and Imperial Innovations’ £150 million fund for university spin-outs. The Scottish government has announced a £100,000 NHS Innovation Fund and AMSCI (the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative) has announced a £100 million fund for projects that will improve UK manufacturing supply chains.
Each year British American Business produces an investment handbook to provide practical advice and information to US companies looking to expand their operations in the UK. This year’s issue is now online, and you can see three pages dedicated to the UK’s biotech offering on pages 56-59.
Finally, the ABPI is seeking project examples demonstrating innovative use of patient data. If you are involved in a ‘big data’ project – whether it’s already completed, in progress or planned for the future – it could be valuable as part of a portfolio for showcasing current UK capabilities and sharing best practice. Project details can be submitted until 12 August.