If you’re still looking for a holiday read – or need to refresh your memory following some time off – today we published our latest quarterly policy and regulatory affairs report, capturing key BIA activity from April to July. This latest document covers the fallout from May’s General Election, our annual Parliament Day back in June and July’s launch of the new All Party Parliamentary Group for Life Sciences, as well as updates on the latest legislative developments and regulatory policy proposals at EU and UK level. Have a look and as ever we’re keen to know if there are policy topics of particular interest to your company – get in touch with the policy team.
Also on reports, earlier this month the Cell Therapy Catapult has published its annual survey of the GMP licensed cell and gene manufacturing capability and capacity in the UK, which shows growth in the cell therapy industry to April 2015. It’s great to see evidence of the expansion of the UK’s cell and gene therapy sector, with a 25% increase in the numbers of highly-skilled staff at cell therapy facilities and the addition of 2 cell therapy manufacturing centres – the UK is establishing itself as a top location to undertake translational research.
I was also pleased to hear BioCity Nottingham have begun work on a new £30m state-of-the-art facility next door to the current site. The new building will increase BioCity Nottingham’s overall capacity in a fantastic boost to the UK biotech ecosystem.
Elsewhere in the UK, congratulations to Edinburgh-based BIA member Synpromics, who recently announced they had received £2.1m from Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) specialist Private Equity firm, Calculus Capital. The BIA has made a continued case for ensuring that tax-advantaged schemes incentivise investment in high risk, innovative sectors such as biotech, where the wider benefits for patients and the economy are vast. See our latest quarterly report (mentioned above) for the latest developments regarding tax-advantaged venture capital schemes announced in the Emergency Budget.
At the Comprehensive Spending Review on 25 November, the Chancellor will set out where this Government will make significant cuts to public spending in an effort to reduce the deficit. In all likelihood our sector, like all others, will see cuts to public funding – but it is important that we continue to make the case to set out why the life sciences is important to the UK and to illustrate that the different routes for funding all play an important role in our R&D ecosystem. Over the next weeks the BIA will use several opportunities to make representations to Ministers, the Treasury and the Commons Science & Technology Select Committee about the importance of Government support for our sector. This tranche of work includes – as part of a coalition of life science stakeholders – an open cross-sector letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. We are seeking CEO signatories to illustrate wide backing from our sector to protect the UK’s science base in the face of significant public cuts. We have already been in contact with many of you – thanks to those who have already expressed an interest in signing – and are keen to add to the list. If you are a CEO of an active R&D or manufacturing company and interested in adding your support, please email Zoe Freeman by this Friday for more details.
This month marks the 40th anniversary since César Milstein and Georges Köhler’s Nature paper first described their technique for producing monoclonal antibodies. Initially beginning life as a laboratory tool for studying the immune system, monoclonal antibodies now form the basis of drugs for numerous diseases, with a market worth $75bn a year. In celebration of the anniversary, the MRC have published a story on their website explaining the significant milestones in the story of monoclonal antibody technology and its success in forming the basis of some of the best-selling drugs of all time. Our recent Celebrate report also covers the role of monoclonal antibodies in the development of the world’s best-selling drug, Humira, and Multiple Sclerosis treatment, Lemtrada.
Celebrating another anniversary, the EMA’s SME initiative is ten years old. To mark the occasion, EMA has launched an online survey to gather feedback on the programme. If you’re interested in contributing, the EMA is inviting feedback on current issues faced by SMEs, areas for further development and identification of new regulatory tools that could support innovation in the SME sector. The deadline for completing the survey is 25 September.
Over the summer, the Science Industry Partnership (SIP) Board of employers has now reported on the first year of the SIP – which spans April 2014 to April 2015 – and produced a short summary setting out the considerable achievements so far, and what we can expect in Year 2 and beyond. Some great highlights from the first year. I’d recommend you take a look.
On IP matters, the BIA has submitted a response to the Preparatory Committee for the Unified Patent Court (UPC)’s consultation on proposed rules and court fees and recoverable costs. In our response we call for lower fees for SMEs to ease the burden on small businesses, clarification on how value-based fees would be determined and a clear definition of SMEs to inform the work of the court.
Finally, for those who may have missed it, a reminder that we are currently seeking nominations to the BIA Board. Further details here if you’re interested. All nominations must be received by next Wednesday 2 September.
I’ll be back with my next update on 7 September, when Newscast will resume its normal weekly service following the summer. Until then, enjoy the bank holiday next week.