board_candidates_2014Today I’m delighted to announce that Lord Drayson will be the keynote speaker for our annual UK Bioscience Forum on 7 October. As a former government Minister, a co-founder of PowderJect, and entrepreneur currently setting up a new company, and recently appointed to the Oxford University council, Lord Drayson has both excellent experience and a unique perspective on what actions and behaviours entrepreneurs, investors and governments need to take for the UK life science ecosystem to thrive. The agenda for the day is now available at and you can register there too.

One of the BIA’s defining factors that I’m most proud of is that we are a member led and owned trade association – which not only enables us to be the legitimate voice of the sector with government but also ensures our activities are directed by the membership. As a not-for-profit company, limited by guarantee, each member company of the BIA has voting rights at our AGM and the opportunity to select Board members to represent them. This process of governance is quite formal for the size of organisation we are – but is the way that you ensure your voice is heard and that your trade association is doing what its members want it to do.

I’m pleased to say that we are in good financial shape, have an increasing membership, and there will be no increase in membership fees for 2015. And this year, 12 colleagues – pictured above – have gone to the trouble of putting themselves forward for election for five positions available on the (unpaid) BIA Board. A notice of our AGM, ballot papers and candidate biograophies has been sent to primary contacts in all member companies. One way many member companies decide how to vote is to share the candidate profiles amongst senior colleagues at a team meeting before getting one colleague, the BIA’s primary contact, to cast the company’s vote. So I encourage you to talk with your colleagues and ensure your company’s vote is cast by 3 October 2014.

Next Thursday 18 September the British Pharmacological Society (BPS) is holding a meeting in Cambridge on ‘Inspired Biologics 2014’. I’ll be joining for the networking event at 7pm, where I’ll look forward to the short presentation by Andrew Sandham, Partner of Syncona Partners LLP, on “What is required to set up a biotech company/spin-out – perspectives from a healthcare investment company”. BPS members can attend the evening session for free, and so can delegates from the daytime meeting.

Also coming up is the launch of an official collaboration between UCL and the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) to promote scientific collaboration and potential clinical applications in the fields gene therapy, stem cell therapy and tissue engineering. The launch event is free and takes place on Monday 29 September.

I’d like to draw your attention to one of our guest blogs this week, in which Malcolm Skingle from GSK and the Science Industry Partnership (SIP) explains the new Skills for Growth scheme and how it can benefit companies. The scheme includes a voucher scheme for SMEs for up to 50% of the cost of workforce development training, which is something members asked that we lobby for and I’m pleased to say the SIP listened and have delivered. This should enable SMEs to access training for staff at a significant and easy to use discount – I urge you to take a look at the scheme and get in touch with the SIP to find out how you can benefit.

Finally, to support our charity of the year I’m taking part in the Carrots NightWalk in London 2014 on 19 September to raise money for Fight for Sight and I’d really appreciate your support. Donating to my JustGiving page is easy – just follow this link and click donate.