QueensSpeech2015_600_300Last Wednesday, at the State Opening of Parliament, the Queen delivered a speech to set out the new Government’s legislative agenda for the parliamentary year ahead. As expected, topics reflected largely what had previously been discussed in the media, including bills on devolution and the EU referendum.

Although not in the form of a legislative bill, the speech mentioned that in England the Government will implement the NHS’s five year plan (NHS England Chief Executive Simon Steven’s Five Year Forward View, published last October). According to the detail in the briefing pack, the Government commits to increasing ‘investment into the NHS by £8 billion a year by 2020’, and transforming services to include ‘faster access to new drugs and treatments’. This will no doubt relate to the outcomes of Life Sciences Minister George Freeman’s Accelerated Access Review (if you’d like to get involved with the BIA’s input to the Review, get in touch).

Also on the Five Year Forward View, NHS England have provided more information on their ‘test beds’ initiative – an important part of Simon Steven’s five year forward look and the key innovation policy of NHS England. NHS England together with HM Government and the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) has invited innovators from the UK and globally to express an interest in testing their innovations in the NHS, and held a series of briefing events, webinars and calls over the past 2 weeks. The slides from these briefing events have now been made available, along with an FAQ document complied from key points raised. You can also watch the briefing webinar in full here. The deadline for expressions of interest from innovators is 12 noon on 12 June 2015, which you can complete here. The test beds prospectus provides further information and background to the programme if you’re interested.

Other items of interest from the Queen’s speech included the Enterprise Bill, set to reduce regulatory burden on small businesses, and on local and national devolution. Full details on items announced which are relevant to the life sciences sector can be found on our blog here.

In other news from last week, it was great to hear that Professor Tim Dafforn, who joined us on our synbio trade mission to San Francisco last November, has been appointed Chief Scientific Adviser at BIS.  Tim has strong links to the synbio community, currently appointed as Entrepreneur in Residence for Synthetic Biology at BIS and sits on the Synthetic Biology Leadership Council.

I was also delighted to hear this morning that BIA member RedX Pharma has been selected as one of five finalists in EuropaBio’s Most Innovative European Biotech SME award, a unique annual initiative recognising innovative biotech SMEs and the crucial role they play in answering some of society’s greatest challenges. Best of luck to you for 23 June, when the awards will be presented by Carlos Moedas, EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation during EuropaBio’s event on the Benefits of Biotechnology at the European Parliament.

Looking forward to upcoming events in June, I’ll be speaking at Eye on Bio a week today as part of an afternoon panel discussion on public sector investment with Sarah Haywood, COO MedCity – check out the agenda here. Also, a reminder that BIA members are eligible for a 50% discount at the upcoming Pharmaceutical Industry Security Forum Masterclass, taking place in London on 30 June – more info here.

With just over two weeks to go until BIO, we’ve put together a quick reference guide on what’s happening, when and how to get involved. We hope this printable guide will help the 360+ UK delegates to plan their time effectively – you can download it here. And don’t forget to register for our webinar this Friday for a pre-BIO briefing from your desk.

Finally, I look forward to seeing those of you coming to our second BIA Annual Lecture this Thursday, to be delivered by this year’s BIA Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Sir Bill Castell. It promises to be a great evening.