ClinigenGAP_BioEurope_panelclose_editLast Thursday morning a number of key announcements were made by Life Sciences Minister George Freeman during a No10 breakfast meeting I attended alongside life science industry leaders, regulators and heath officials.

The latest rounds of Biomedical Catalyst (BMC) funding were revealed, with four BIA members amongst the winners – Modern Biosciences, Domainex Ltd, Heptares Therapeutics Ltd and Ingenza Ltd. It’s great to see BIA member companies amongst those selected for this latest round. Topping £100 million in business-led research funding is also a great milestone and it is satisfying for all of us who called out so strongly for the establishment and refilling of the BMC to see how far it has come.

Also on the BMC, Innovate UK and the MRC have appointed Ipsos MORI to conduct an independent evaluation of the scheme. In early 2015 they will be undertaking a survey among applicants (both successful and unsuccessful) to gauge views on and gather evidence and data relevant to, the issues to be explored by the study. Innovate UK has emailed applicants of business-led projects from all BMC competition rounds to date to enable opt-out from the survey. If you didn’t receive the opt-out email and want to be sure that your current email address is added to the mailing list of BMC applicants to be shared with Ipsos MORI, please contact:

At the No10 breakfast, George Freeman also announced the new ‘Innovative Medicines and MedTech Review’. This review provides a good opportunity to design a new speedier path to get innovative drugs to patients. It provides a timely vehicle to discuss how clinical trials can be made faster and more efficient, how early access can be delivered and rapid uptake ensured for all NHS patients.

Alongside all the announcements, the sector was also buzzing with a number of conferences and events going on last week – from the financial (Jefferies), to the industrial (FT and ABPI) and also charities (AMRC). It was great to see BIA members represented, doing business and moving forward.

The Consilium/Covington & Burling Annual Healthcare Conference gave lots of food for thought with discussion ranging from open source development, to the potential of digital healthcare and impact of big data, what US investors are looking for, liquidity issues and the benefits of M&A. Keep an eye out for a guest blog on the conference coming soon.

There was an interesting update from Professor Mark Caulfied of Genomics England on the pilot of the 100k Genome Project at the ABPI conference and George Freeman provided attendees with further details on the government review to accelerate access to innovative medicines that was announced at No10 that morning (having nipped across town from the AMRC conference having delivered a similar update to the medical research charity).

It was great also to see some of you at the Manchester Science Park for a really interesting breakfast discussion on the different types of funding available and the ‘strings’ that come with each. For those who couldn’t attend, the top advice from the morning is to ensure you are fully using R&D tax credits and it was also pointed out that the straightforward nature of the BMC makes it very useful for companies.

On the topic of funding, on 15 December the KTN will be holding a webinar on ‘EU Funding opportunities for the Regenerative Medicine Industry’ – more info here. Also I was happy to see the Cell Therapy Catapult, in collaboration with the KTN, AMRC and UK Regen Med Platform launched a UK cell therapy database of research funding last week.

On AMR, last week saw European Antibiotic Awareness Day with new initiatives unveiled including the Longitude Prize opening.

On Early Access, we’ve recently published a report of a panel I chaired at BIO Europe with Clinigen, which provides a broader look at the challenge of early access for companies taking a global view. We’ve also posted a blog on the topic here and you can view the panel in full here.

Finally, a quick reminder that the ABPI skills survey closes this Fri 28 Nov – have your say before it closes.

Look forward to seeing you in Liverpool for Bioprocess UK later this week