It was a busy end to the week last week with a number of key announcements and, of course, our big events. Thursday’s Future of Healthcare Investor Forum saw over 100 attendees from the UK life science industry and investor community gather at the London Stock Exchange for a fantastic and vibrant day showcasing why the sector is ripe for investment; see our publication with stats and trends on the UK biotech industry and the public markets. The event featured showcase sessions from seven UK healthcare companies as potential investment opportunities, keynote talks from AZ’s Mene Pangalos and investor Andy Richards and presentations from public listed companies – Clinigen, BTG, Circassia and Retroscreen Virology – offering insights for others considering going public.
We partnered with One Nucleus and hosts MedCity and the London Stock Exchange for the event, which was also sponsored by JP Morgan, Numis and Citigate Dewe Rogerson. We were delighted that Life Sciences Minister George Freeman officially opened the market that morning – he then joined Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor for Business and Enterprise, in welcoming attendees to the event. Several speakers were interviewed on business news channel CNBC – see interviews from George Freeman MP, JP Morgan’s Cathrin Petty, Polar Capital’s Dan Mahony, and Circassia’s Steve Harris. There was certainly a positive and optimistic atmosphere amongst delegates and a few bold claims from presenters. For more of a flavour of the day take a look at MedCity’s Storify roundup or the #healthinvest tag on Twitter. I noted real appetite from delegates for more showcase events of this type and we certainly hope this will be the first of many more to come. It’s great too to see that the renewed investor interest in the sector has been picked up in today’s Times.
Our annual Gala Dinner followed the Investor Forum and proved to be a great evening with 650 people celebrating a great year for UK life science. We raised a toast to Dippy in his retirement and heard some inspirational speeches from George Freeman and Antibiotic Research UK, amongst others.
I’m pleased to announce that Sir William Castell was named this year’s recipient of the BIA’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the Gala Dinner. Bill is currently away in the much warmer climes of Australia, so unfortunately couldn’t accept the award in person, however recorded a short acceptance speech which is available to watch here. A truly well deserved winner.
This year’s Gala Dinner sold out in record time, just before Christmas, and the popularity of the event increases year upon year. 2016’s offering may be your last chance to dine with Dippy before the blue whale takes up residency in Hintz Hall, so if you’re interested in hosting a table I’d encourage you to get in touch – the earlier the better!
In other news, George Freeman used his platform at the Future of Healthcare Investor event to reveal a further investment of £13.7 million for stratified medicine partnerships funded by the MRC, bringing the total number of collaborations funded to thirteen, with investment topping £52 million. This comes as Obama has also announced his plans for a $215 million Precision Medicine Initiative in the US. It’s great to see precision medicine taking centre stage on both sides of the Atlantic, with the opportunity to catalyse many new medical breakthroughs.
Elsewhere in the UK, Vince Cable announced a new £40 million investment for synthetic biology, establishing three additional Synthetic Biology Research Centres in Edinburgh, Manchester and Warwick – a great boost for the UK’s burgeoning synbio community. Also on synbio, the Synthetic Biology Leadership Excellence Accelerator Programme (SynBio LEAP) announced their 2015 Fellows – including BIA Synthetic Biology Advisory Committee members, Sean Ward (Synthace) and Ted Fjällman (Prokarium). The 23 Fellows will work together over the next year to develop a set of ‘Strategic Action Plans’ that explore the impact of synthetic biology and propose ways to advance its positive outcomes. You can see the full list of fellows for 2015 here. Many congratulations to Sean and Ted.
Congratulations also to Darrin Disley, CEO Horizon Discovery, on winning Entrepreneur of the Year at the Quoted Company Awards 2015. Also to see Gabriele Cerrone of Tiziana Life Sciences nominated in the same category. It’s a great representation of the UK life sciences sector and a sign of the talent we have within the industry.
Finally, on policy, today we published our latest update on BIA policy matters – Influencing and Shaping Our Sector. This quarterly update gives an overview of key policy developments and the BIA’s continued engagement with policymakers on behalf of the UK life sciences sector from October 2014 to January 2015. The last quarter of 2014 saw its fair share of developments in the area of life science policy, including the publication of the government’s Science and Innovation Strategy, Labour’s own science policy paper and NHS England’s ‘Five year forward view’, plus the announcement of a government-led review of innovation in the NHS and a review of the MHRA. You can download the document here.