Breakfast Banner no logoI was delighted – along with my counterparts at Bionow, BioPartner and One Nucleus – to welcome MediWales to the United Life Sciences fold last week. Through this collaboration, all five organisations are fully committed to providing a united front and critically, one voice, to the government via the lobbying and advocacy work that the BIA undertakes for the sector. Their addition strengthens a strategic partnership which represents over 1100 life science and healthcare members, both in the UK and further afield.

In other good news, it was good to hear that AIM-listed Summit Therapeutics raised $34 million in their US IPO – another UK company and BIA member showcasing the strength of bioscience this side of the pond.

As we head towards ‘purdah’ at the end of March (when the civil service goes into shutdown over the General Election campaign period til  7 May), we have been kept busy with responding to a number of reviews that will close ahead of purdah and responding to announcements that will continue to come out thick and fast ahead of the 30 March deadline.

On Friday we submitted the BIA response to Dame Anne Dowling’s review of business-university research collaborations. Translational activities are core to the life sciences sector to ensure the innovative research undertaken in the UK’s world leading science base can be appropriately taken forward to market and, ultimately, made of use to patients. So it is vital the next government continues to support schemes that have delivered such great benefits in this area – including the Biomedical Catalyst and focus on the Eight Great Technologies – and examines best practices in the technology transfer process. There are some great examples of effective UK TTOs and truly motivated tech transfer teams to learn from. We’ve highlighted a number of successful business-university collaborations in the response, which you can read in full here. Hot on its heels the Nurse Review, looking at Research Councils, has just announced its call for evidence with a deadline of Friday 17 April. Please contact Zoe Freeman if you would be interested in engaging on this.

Also on responses, the BIA has signed a joint sector-wide statement in response to the ‘Stop Vivisection’ citizens’ initiative that is seeking to abolish the European Directive 2010/63/EU.  The Directive, which is designed to protect animals used for scientific purposes, is essential to allow necessary research involving animals to continue whilst also requiring enhanced animal welfare standards. The joint statement, signed by BIA, supports the importance of this Directive and calls on the European Parliament and Commission to oppose its repeal.

Going forward, we anticipate a busy couple of weeks with a raft of announcements from government. The life science strategy was discussed within Cabinet last Tuesday with George Freeman, and we expect to see some more action later this week – watch this space.

In Parliament, after some changing messages out of Whitehall and Westminster, it now looks as if the Medical Innovation Bill has come to the end of the line regarding its progression in this Parliamentary term. Finally being listed last Friday for a Second Reading debate, the Bill it was not moved by its lead MP. Given recent headlines regarding lack of Liberal Democrat support for the Bill, wider stakeholder concerns (including from our community) and the simple lack of Parliamentary time we can now expect the Bill not to go any further. However the prospect of a piece of legislation looking at the issue of medical innovation in the next Parliament does look like a possibility – we will continue to track the issue and keep you up to speed.

This week the BIA will also be in Paris, not only at Bio Europe (good luck to presenting and partnering members attending) but also attending a public business consultation meeting run by the OECD looking at international principles that will inform implementation of the new modified-nexus compliant Patent Box. Life sciences and the BIA is well represented at this international-level discussion as well as being an important part of dialogue here in the UK with the Treasury. We will come back to you all shortly with an update of latest developments and next steps.

In other news, the MHRA has now published the fourth in a series of case studies developed alongside the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP), detailing the work of its Innovation Office. This latest case study was progressed with the support of the BIA’s Manufacturing Advisory Committee, and features Oxford University’s Clinical BioManufacturing Facility – a BIA member – and their innovative approach to developing vaccines for some of the world’s most virulent diseases. You can read the case study here.

Ending with some key BIA dates in 2015. The conference season is once again upon us, so do make sure you put these in your diary so you don’t miss out on any of our award-winning events:

  • 11 June – Joint annual BIA/MHRA Conference, taking place at the Wellcome Trust, Euston Road, London
  • 8/9 July – The CEO and Investor Forum, our annual C-level event, this year taking place in Weybridge, Surrey
  • 15 October – Our award-winning UK Bioscience Forum (includes the Autumn Reception) at the Royal College of Surgeons
  • 25/26 November – Annual bioProcessUK Conference taking place in Cambridge

To register your interest in attending, exhibiting or supporting any of the above events, please contact Cathrine Smyth.

Finally, those of you who haven’t yet done so, a reminder email will be going out tomorrow to complete the BIA membership survey. I’d encourage you all to take the time to provide your thoughts and comments on how we best meet your needs as your sector trade organisation.