colinhailey_600x300Last week we made the trip to Oxford 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. The event was a great opportunity to learn more about each committee and visualise the big picture of how they all fit together. It was also the setting for some lively discussion following the official launch of our ‘Vision for the UK life sciences sector in 2025’. For those of you who couldn’t make it, read our round-up from the day below.

Adding another successful event to the BIA calendar, our inaugural Board and Committee Summit attracted over 150 guests to the Oxford Town Hall last Wednesday – the biggest biotech meeting for 2015 in Oxford. The eight Advisory Committees play a key role in BIA activities, providing an unrivalled source of expertise on a variety of sector issues, from synthetic biology to intellectual property – supporting the BIA and, in turn, the sector. There are currently eight Advisory Committees covering the following areas: Cell Therapy and Regenerative Medicine, Communications, Finance and Tax, Intellectual Property, Manufacturing, People, Regulatory Affairs and Synthetic Biology.

Preliminary findings from the recent BIA membership survey – presented to attendees on the day by Steve Bates, BIA CEO – indicate that 90% of BIA members are aware of, or are members of, the BIA Advisory Committees. Around eight in ten suggest it is an important member benefit and nine in ten are satisfied with it. Of those who have joined a committee, almost all suggest it is effective. With such positive feedback comes the challenge of success – around 40% of members not on a committee would be interested in joining one.

Member benefits - BIA Advisory Committees

The success of the BIA committees is driven by a stellar performance from the cast of Chairs, each of whom was invited to provide an update to delegates on the priorities for their respective committees in 2015. The priorities pull together a clear set of issues and tangible outputs on which the committee will focus through the current year. There can be some crossover of issues, for example, as mentioned by Stephen Ward, Chair of the Manufacturing Advisory Committee, the Patent Box transcends across a number of areas in the sector and is key in manufacturing as well as finance terms. The summit represented the first major step in addressing such crossover and encouraging collaboration between committees on issues of joint interest.

You can read more on each of the sets of committee priorities here.

The final plenary session of the day was delivered by Ed Hodgkin, Chair of the BIA Board, on the launch of the BIA vision for the life sciences sector in 2025. The vision was conceived following a discussion around the development of the UK Life Sciences Manifesto 2015-20 at a BIA Board meeting – how did we have a manifesto without a vision for the future of the UK industry? The resulting document was developed in consultation with the BIA Board and sector experts, and represents a starting point for future discussion and debate.

The UK life sciences sector is succeeding across a number of areas: it has valuable government support across all parties; a world-leading health service; a strong academic research base; and some fantastic examples of industry success. However pain points do exist and these are identified within the vision – some out with companies and also some internal ones.

The vision is scaled to the UK’s academic research base, looking to the Boston cluster as an example – the amount of money invested in its academic research and the resulting companies it has spawned – the level of investment in the UK academic research base should be generating ten times the size of our current industry. Whilst Boston is used as a comparison, the UK is an entirely different entity, encompassing numerous cities and clusters. When questioned whether the vision might be more achievable if focussed solely on the South East cluster, Steve Bates highlighted the numerous clusters across the UK that would be excluded if this were the case, significantly decreasing the size and value of the UK life sciences industry.

ctteesummit_sb_600x300Comments from the audience were also made on current investment in the UK industry, highlighting a lack of sector expertise in the City as an important issue to address. In his closing remarks, Sir Gordon Duff, new Chairman of the BBSRC, said he loved the vision because of its ambition and aim to rely on Darwin rather than national champions to build a strong pyramid from large cap through to innovative start-ups.

So what’s next? The document was intended as a starting point to debate – if you have any thought or opinions please do get in touch directly or using Twitter (#BIAvision2025). The BIA will also be working with key influencers in the sector, forming a coalition to come together on a vision for the life sciences sector in the UK and begin to put things in place to realise it.

If you’re interested in joining a committee please get in touch

If you have any thoughts or opinions on the vision let us know – email us or tweet using #BIAVision2025