Bioscience Forum 2014 web banner 600bFollowing the summer and last week’s Bank Holiday, for many of us it feels like the start of a new school term. I want to thank our advisory committee chairs whose updates filled this weekly slot very nicely over August. These committees put in a lot of hours behind the scenes to inform the BIA’s work, and it’s great to be able to share some of what they’ve been up to so far this year.

Over the last month we’ve seen news including the official launch of a Genomics England project by David Cameron, NICE’s rejection of Kadcyla and provisional recommendation of Sovaldi, Sativex becoming the first cannabis-based medicine to be licensed in the UK (just by NHS Wales so far), and the fact that the pharmaceutical, medical and biotech sector led M&A activity in UK in the first half of 2014.

It’s been welcome news to hear that the Cancer Drugs Fund has been extended until March 2016 with a £160 million boost, and it’s been particularly interesting to see how, in the face of an international healthcare emergency, the investigational ZMapp therapy has been made available to a number of Ebola patients.

Coming up on the BIA’s calendar, 7 October will be a key date this autumn as it’s our UK Bioscience Forum and Autumn Reception – do book your place soon. We’ll also be holding our AGM on the day, where we’ll reveal the new membership of the BIA Board.

On the subject of the make-up of biotech leadership, our member Liftstream is analysing global gender diversity in biotech, pharma and venture capital. Their short survey builds upon findings from over 75 interviews with leading bioscience industry executives and investors from across the world, and they invite responses from both men and women, whatever your views on gender diversity, to inform a publicly accessible white paper.

On 2 October I’ll be taking part in an event organised by the Swedish Chamber of Commerce and AstraZeneca on ‘Sustaining success through open innovation: a life science perspective’ – more details here if you’re interested. And if you’d like to know more about biotech opportunities in Australia, there are a few spaces remaining on our AusBiotech trade mission at the end of October.

Last but certainly not least, this afternoon EuropaBio has announced the companies through to their shortlist for the fifth annual Most Innovative EU Biotech SME Award, and I’m delighted that BIA member Autifony are one of the top five candidates selected from all sectors of biotechnology across the EU. The award ceremony will take place during the European Biotech Week on October 8 in Brussels – we wish Autifony the best of luck.