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We had a particularly busy week last week, not least on Thursday when we held the BIA’s fifteenth annual Parliament Day, topped off with a fabulous summer networking evening aboard the Dixie Queen paddle steamer. The 35-strong Parliament Day delegation had a full day, kicking off with a breakfast briefing on the shape of the new political landscape and morning meetings with key stakeholders from NICE, NHS England, HM Treasury, Innovate UK and the MRC.

The Parliament Day 2015 delegation

At lunchtime we had a riverside reception in the Thames Pavilion in the House of Commons, kindly hosted by new Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner, where we also heard from Life Sciences Minister George Freeman and launched a new celebratory report – Celebrating UK bioscience: unravelling the stories behind UK bioscience success. The report highlights six case studies of UK bioscience excellence, in which UK science and its commercial exploitation have been fundamental to fantastic scientific innovation. We’ve often heard that the sector needs to shout louder about our successes, and this report is one step towards achieving that aim – we envisage more to come!

The parliamentary reception was also attended by Rt Hon John Spellar MP, Chris Green MP and Liz McInnes MP, and we had interest from a good number of others who were unable to attend on the day. It’s great to know that there are parliamentarians supportive of and keen to learn about the life sciences industry (and in fact just this morning I’m pleased to say we held the AGM to ratify a new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Life Sciences, for which BIA will provide secretariat along with our Life Sciences UK partners the ABPI, BIVDA and ABHI).

In the afternoon it was really valuable to have Chief Executive of NHS England Simon Stevens join us to talk about his forward view for the health service and answering questions from the delegation. Nicole Mather, Director of the Office for Life Sciences (OLS) and members of the Accelerated Access Review (AAR) team also joined us to convene a workshop explaining the aims and processes of the AAR and to gather some initial industry thoughts. In essence, the premise of the offer from government here seems to be we’ll help you get speedier approval and Health Technology Appraisal data on your products, for which we expect cheaper prices. Is this a win, win, win for the UK biotech sector? Formally and informally, BIA will continue to input evidence to the AAR over the next few weeks so I’d be interested if you think this is an attractive (and/or workable) proposition for our global sector. Watch this space for opportunities to have your say.

Thank you once again to all the CEOs and senior representatives from member companies who joined us on the day. To catch up on social media, take a look at #BIA_PD2015. In the evening we were able to top off the day with a great evening in the sunshine, cruising down the Thames on the Dixie Queen paddle boat with over 100 attendees and a really positive buzz.

I also spent time at European Parliament last week as part of a EuropaBio event on the Benefits of Biotech, and I’m happy to have been elected to the Board of EuropaBio, where I will continue to fly the flag and represent UK sector interests.  It was good to hear the UK life science strategy recognised by Elcin Ergun, European VP of Merck Serono, who recommended to European colleagues that the integrated UK strategy is worth copying. Congratulations go to the 2015 Most Innovative European Biotech SME Award winners – Italy’s MolMed S.p.A. for the healthcare category and the UK’s Celtic Renewables Ltd, an Edinburgh spin-out, for the industrial biotechnology category.

On Tuesday there was more good news at the launch of BioGateway, a new life science network based at BIA member Discovery Park in Sandwich. Attendees heard from Dr Mark Treherne, CEO of UKTI’s Life Science Organisation, on the landscape of Life Sciences in the UK and the role played by networks like the BioGateway in supporting growth in the sector.

In the week that saw the launch of a new MHRA Inspectorate blog, the MHRA also published the latest in their series of case studies highlighting the work of the Innovation Office, featuring BIA member FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies. The case study details how the Innovation Office helped them to future-proof their manufacturing facility in Billingham, becoming one of the first plants in Europe to have single-use tech from start to finish. You can read the case study here.

Finally, as the weather heats up this week we are looking ahead to some forthcoming events. Our annual UK CEO & Investor Forum takes place next week at Oatlands Park Hotel in Weybridge, kicking off with dinner on Wednesday 8 July. It’s always an interesting couple of days, and it’s not too late to register for your chance to hear and join in with the conversations around successes and deals, soapbox presentations, the future of product development and more. And following on from two previous successful missions, we are pleased to announce that registration is now open for a trade mission with UKTI to AusBiotech 2015 in Melbourne, Australia, 7-9 October.