IMG_1459_600300Thanks to all who came along last Thursday to the second BIA Annual Lecture, delivered this year by our Lifetime Achievement Award winner and Wellcome Trust Chairman, Sir Bill Castell. I hope you’ll all agree it was a great evening – an excellent speech from Bill topped off with some networking drinks in the impressive Wellcome Trust building.

Taking us through his career to date and some of his ‘life learnings’, it was refreshing to hear Bill highlight what he sees as some of his biggest failures as well as successes, demonstrating the importance of failure in building experience. Discussing his prognosis for the future, there were reflections on many of the topics covered in our vision for the life sciences sector in 2025. The UK’s world class science base was recognised throughout, however he stressed that whilst translation is improving, technology transfer decisions need to be firmly rooted in economic impact. Sir Bill also highlighted the importance of long term capital – availability of funding playing a vital role in the future of the sector.

It was also fantastic to hear Sir Bill recognise the work of the BIA in representing the UK biotech sector, as he noted the strength of the UK’s capabilities becoming more widely recognised across the globe. On that note, we’ll be flying out to BIO2015 next week to showcase the UK sector – do come and say hello if you’re heading out to Phili.

Many thanks to Bill for an inspiring lecture. Check out pictures from the event below from our Flickr page.

Also on events, this week we join forces with the MHRA for our annual conference – more updates in next week’s blog – and if you’re interested in our UK CEO and Investor Forum check out our latest blog here which provides a short preview of what to expect from this year’s conference.

In policy news, further information has just been made available on the Accelerated Access Review. The Review will consist of four key themes: establishing need, priorities and principles for innovation; new development pathways; affordable national funding models to drive innovation; and local adoption and diffusion. The BIA is hosting a workshop on the Review as part of its forthcoming Parliament Day and we will be canvassing member reviews. For more information please contact Pamela Learmonth. Early access will be a key area of focus for the BIA in its engagement on the review and on that note it was great to hear that the second positive scientific opinion as part of the Early Access to Medicines Scheme was granted to Bristol-Myers Squibb’s nivolumab (Opdivo) last week. Another encouraging cancer immunotherapy story amongst the raft of headlines coming out of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting over the last couple of weeks.

In other news from last week, there was a collective sigh of relief from across the scientific community following the European Commission’s response to the European Citizens’ Initiative, Stop Vivisection, and the decision not to repeal European Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals for scientific research purposes. Whilst the initiative has now been rejected, it’s a stark reminder of the importance of clear communication on the use of animals in research. The BIA supports the aims of the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research, which will help the research community to communicate about the benefits, limitations and nature of animal research to ensure the public has the information they need to develop informed views on this topic. The ABPI have produced an excellent Members’ Guide to the Concordat, published last week, which you can download here.

As mentioned above, next week I’ll be writing from BIO – hope to see some of you there!