colinhailey_600x300It was great to see so many of you in Oxford last week for the first ever BIA Board and Committee Summit, bringing together members of all eight Advisory Committees and the BIA Board under the same roof. I hope you’ll all agree it was a successful event, providing the opportunity to learn more about each committee and visualise the big picture of how they all fit together. It was also good to see some new faces participating in committee meetings for the first time and I hope to see more of you getting involved through 2015 – if you’re interested or would like to find out more, do get in touch. Many thanks also to Sir Gordon Duff, new Chairman of the BBSRC and long time acquaintance of the BIA, for providing the closing remarks on the day.

In other significant BIA news, and discussed at the committee summit, last week saw the launch of our vision for the UK life sciences sector in 2025. This vision, developed in consultation with the BIA Board and sector experts, sets out an ambitious goal for the UK to become a top global cluster in life sciences by 2025. The document sets out an analysis of the current landscape; where there are issues that impact on the system and where there is room for improvement; and a working hypothesis on how to take the sector from where it is in 2015 to where it could be a decade out in 2025.

UK life sciences are already in great shape but have the potential to go so much further. Achieving its full potential will be a collective effort across government, investors, industry, academia, funders, charities, patients and the health service. The vision is published as a contribution to debate and we look forward to building the UK’s success with the wider ecosystem. You can download the document in full here, and if you’d like to share any thoughts join the debate on Twitter using #BIAVision2025 or get in touch directly.

In a show of support for the increasingly attractive business environment in the UK for emerging companies, I’m pleased to be able to welcome AKL Research & Development Ltd into the UK, and also into BIA membership. It was great to hear that their decision was based upon a number of measures previously lobbied for by the BIA – including R&D tax credits, the Patent Box and the Enterprise Investment Scheme – providing evidence that these incentives help make for an “extremely compelling reason to be UK based”, in the words of AKL CEO, David Sharples. Stories like this will be a key part of shaping our vision for 2025.

Even though the general election draws near, this has not stopped activity life science activity in the City of London with Clinigen’s takeover of Idis and Horizon Discovery’s refinancing.

As we navigate the final days before the most uncertain General Election in decades, our Policy team have written a blog taking a look at the current political climate, what the potential outcomes might be and what they mean for the next Parliament. We’ve also compiled a handy table of seven parties’ manifesto commitments on the policy areas that matter most to the UK life sciences industry, including science and innovation, healthcare, finance and tax, and European membership. So if you’re looking for some clarity on how the General Election might affect the sector, do take a look. And keep an eye out for my update next week for any reactions following the result.

For those heading out to Philadelphia in June for BIO2015, we’ve put together a preparation pack in the form of a blog post, explaining some of the changes for the UK delegation this year, as well as details of what’s happening when, with who and how to get involved – your handy guide to getting the most out of BIO2015. Do take a look if you’re flying out.

You may also have noticed a number of articles in the media recently, following the publication of results as part of a trial investigating cancer immunotherapy in mice – an interesting development which highlights the advances being made in the sector at the moment and also the importance of animal research in the development of such pioneering new treatments. The University of Cambridge have produced a great video looking at how mice are helping the fight against cancer and the facilities in which they are housed. The short film also explores issues of animal welfare and the search for replacements – do take a look if you have a spare 10 minutes.

In other sector news, the government have produced a new fact sheet on the new cutting agent provisions in the Serious Crime Act – available to view here if of interest.

See you on the other side of the General Election