Neil Murray and Mike Davies BBC NorthWest TonightLast week for me kicked off in Frankfurt at a busy BIO Europe where it was good to see UK companies (and US investors) strongly in attendance. I chaired a really interesting session at BIO with Clinigen and others on early access. It was great to hear reflections on the importance of such schemes across Europe and a full write up will come round soon – watch this space.

I then hot footed it to Alderley Park in Cheshire on Tuesday for Bioinfect 2014, which has quickly become a fixture on the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) scene. Bioinfect, hosted by our United Life Sciences Partner Bionow was, as usual, a fascinating day. It was a privilege to be able to give some closing remarks on the day and I was delighted to formally announce the new BIA Antimicrobial Resistance working group that will focus upon the policy issues at the heart of tackling this agenda. Our first priority will be to provide a strong contribution to the O’Neill review from an innovative SME perspective and please do let me know if you’re interested in learning more.

Wednesday last week saw a package of announcements at the Innovate UK conference, including £50 million for a four-year UK investment strategy in emerging technologies and industries, aimed towards improving translation in seven areas including synthetic biology and non-animal technologies. See the press release here and the strategy document here. It’s great to see the BIA’s synbio advisory committee recognised in the Strategy as a key part of the UK offering, which is especially timely as our synbio trade mission will be kicking off this Wednesday with 14 UK companies visiting a selection of organisations in the San Francisco area and attending the SynBioBeta conference on Friday. (We’ll be tweeting with the hashtags #UKSynBio and #SBBSF14.)

Also at the Innovate UK conference, £17 million funding was also announced for up to 210 industrial PhDs in engineering and physical sciences, and Hermann Hauser’s review of the Catapult network was published. Back in May we submitted a response to the consultation, particularly referencing the Cell Therapy and High Value Manufacturing Catapults as a force for good in helping translation in those key areas. We stressed that the Catapult network should be expanded with caution and not at the expense of support for current centres. Hauser’s report calls for a long-term expansion of the Catapult network – creating 30 centres by 2030 – but it’s good to see it also emphasises the need for sustained investment in existing Catapults and for core public funding for long-term investment in infrastructure.

Good to see that following on from feedback at this year’s BIA CEO and Investor Forum, NICE Scientific Advice (NSA) have developed a “lighter” and less expensive SME advice offer. For those interested, an event for SME pharma and biotech companies is being held on 18 December in London – click here for more information.

This week, I’m really looking forward to moderating a session at the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine’s European Investor Day on Thursday. I’ll be chairing a discussion on emerging therapies for ophthalmologic diseases and am also looking forward to hearing company presentations in this fascinating area.

Finally, the BBSRC Great British Bioscience Festival takes place this weekend – marking the end of a year-long programme of activities celebrating the BBSRC’s 20th anniversary with a showcase of the best of British bioscience.

Best,

Steve