Vince Cable visits Ingenza

Vince Cable visits Ingenza

Another week, another key deal for our sector. Today Heptares Therapeutics announced it is to be acquired by Japanese biopharmaceutical company, Sosei, for up to $400 million. This significant deal secures significant investment into the company well into the future. I understand that Heptares will be run as a largely autonomous wholly-owned subsidiary and its operations at Welwyn will be staying and will become a major global drug discovery and development hub for Sosei here in the UK. Congratulations to Malcolm Weir and the Heptares team.

A boost for industrial biotechnology last week as Vince Cable announced the latest winners of Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst funding, worth a combined £20 million. Cable made the announcement on a visit to Ingenza in Edinburgh, one of the many BIA members to win funding in this latest round. The 23 winning projects cover a wide range of applications – from developing new antibiotics to making biofuel from household waste – showcasing the huge spectrum of potential benefits from this emerging and rapidly developing field. So congratulations to all 12 BIA members who received funding – I look forward to hearing more on the projects as they develop.

On the topic of catalysts, I’m looking forward to our CEO dinner in Oxford later this week where we’ll be discussing the past, present and future of the Biomedical Catalyst. The BMC has been one of the key focuses of BIA lobbying and advocacy work and has proved itself to be a great success from the current government. Since the scheme was launched in 2012 over £200 million has been invested through the scheme and it has leveraged a further £100 million in industry co-commitment. Over 25 BIA member companies have won funding from the scheme, including Modern Biosciences who recently wrote us a blog on the vital role it has played in their journey. As we head into an election year where the future of the scheme will be under the consideration by whoever holds the keys to power after 7 May, I’m sure there will be plenty of lively discussion over dinner on Wednesday – I’ll report back next week with any highlights. The following morning we’ll also be holding our Breakfast with the BIA – the second of the investor-ready road show events. I hope to see some of you there.

On the regulatory front, last week the BIA inputted, together with EuropaBio, to an important consultation by the EMA on proposals on how the transparency requirements of the EU Clinical Trials Regulation will be applied to data and information in clinical trial applications which will be stored in the new EU database. In our response, the BIA has supported the need for a balanced approach to be taken that respects both the rights of patients and the public to be able to access information held on the EU database concerning ongoing clinical trials, as well as the needs of developers and researchers to protect their investments and cutting edge research and development of new innovative medicines. We’ll be taking forward our engagement in the coming weeks and will report back with any developments.

We are currently drafting the BIA’s response to a review by Dame Anne Dowling on Business-University Research Collaborations. It’s not long since the House of Commons undertook a similar inquiry (and you can see our response to that here), but Science Minister Greg Clark has particularly asked for the Dowling Review to look at case studies of long-term collaborations and successful practices (in the UK and elsewhere and in any sector) that have led to fruitful partnerships. The whole aim is to identify the barriers to collaboration and make recommendations for practices that can be replicated more widely, including areas where the future government can give effective support, perhaps through schemes or incentives. If you have experience of a long-term collaboration you’d like to share some thoughts on the topic and input into our response, we’d like to hear from you – please get in touch with Zoe.

The BIA has been approached to facilitate a chapter in the upcoming edition of European Biotechnology, which would also feature 20 to 25 UK biotech company profiles. If you think you would be interested in contributing, please get in touch.

Finally, a couple of KTN events which may be of interest – the Biopharmaceutical Analytical Symposium is taking place on the 4th and 5th March in Leeds, and the Delivering Stratified Medicine meeting on 26 March.