Chancellor George Osborne visits BIA member, RedX Pharma

Chancellor George Osborne visits BIA member, RedX Pharma

Last week was a busy and productive one, especially in the field of finance and investment in the sector.

I was delighted to welcome over 80 CEOs and investors to our annual CEO Forum last week down in Weybridge. It was great to see so many faces, old and new to discuss the latest opportunities and challenges in the sector. It was great to learn more about some of our newest members including Vasgen, Calchan and IONTAS. I was struck in particular on the discussions we had on driving value through diversity and corporate culture and I continue to be interested in members’ views and experience on this important issue.

To coincide with the event, the BIA also published a new report with market intelligence firm Evaluate which you may have seen reported in last Thursday’s FT.  The report, UK Biotech: a 10 year horizon contains some interesting and what I hope are useful data sets for the sector including the headline that this year and last are setting new records in financing for the sector. In the foreward I argue that the UK biotech funding ecosystem is doing things differently this time around and that this might mean that the UK financing system for innovative companies is better able to withstand a cyclical change than that in the US. I tested this with some of you who attended the event and I look forward to hearing more feedback from the wider community.

Our report came hot on the heels of another key financial event: the Budget Statement. The focus of this Statement was how the Chancellor intended to make £17billion in savings through cuts to the welfare bill and from tackling tax evasion and avoidance. The political thesis articulated by the Chancellor was that he wanted to create a higher wage, lower tax and lower welfare economy. Throughout his Statement there was a mix of announcements intended to make it reality – incentives to work, lower tax for businesses and individuals but coupled with measures to boost wages and increase investment in training.

The key announcement to note is the plan to reduce the level of corporation tax from 20% to 19% in 2017 and then to 18% in 2020. The Statement also confirmed intentions to introduce a new category of ‘knowledge intensive companies’ in current tax-advantaged venture capital schemes which we have previously called for and welcomed at the March Budget Statement. However it is important to note that the Budget only looked at half the savings the government aim to make over the course of this Parliament. We will find out how the other half will be met in the Comprehensive Spending Review in the Autumn and we continue to work with the wider science and research community on the importance of sustained investment. In the meantime, do check out our full analysis of last week’s Budget on the BIA blog.

Further to his performance at the ballot Box, it was also fantastic to see the Chancellor visiting BIA member RedX yesterday and acknowledging their work on Antimicrobial Resistance. (CEO Neil will explain more on our webinar next week, click here to register. The visit coincided with the long-awaited announcement of the establishment of the Precision Medicine Catapult, which will be centred in Cambridge but work with other UK centres of excellence. It was great to see the appointment of John McKinley as CEO, who we were delighted to welcome to our recent BIA Parliament Day. Also announced was a new Medicines Technologies Catapult which will be based at Alderley Park. Read the announcement in full here.

Continuing the funding and investment theme, it was also great to see new figures from UKTI stating that 2014 had seen stellar results for inward investment, showing that the UK is the #1 destination in Europe for foreign direct investment (FDI). Adding together traditional FDI and R&D collaborations, the UKTI LSO team and partners supported more than 180 international businesses to invest in the UK last fiscal year, which will create more than 5,500 new jobs in the life sciences sector and deliver more than £2.2bn in new investment. Find out more here.

I look forward to discussing this all at our Investor Ready breakfast in London on Thursday and look forward to seeing many of you there.