Archives for the month of: October, 2015

Could we see 3D printed human organs? Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in the US, have adapted a low cost MakerBot 3D printer to print with biological materials. The team hope their work could one day lead to a world in which transplants are no longer necessary to repair damaged organs.

Find out more by watching this week’s video showcase, from the BBC, below.

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Do you have a video you would like the sector to see? Contact us.

blog_reportThroughout the year the BIA advocates for our members in the UK life science industry, engaging with decision makers and influencers in Westminster, Whitehall and across the science, health and business sectors, as well as with regulators in the UK and Europe. Our latest quarterly report, ‘Influencing and shaping our sector: BIA update July – October 2015’, sets out what we’ve been up to in the last few months.

You can download the report in full here. Highlights include:

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  • Our work ahead of the Government’s Spending Review on 25 November to illustrate why public funding for science and innovation is so vital. We’ve undertaken a range of activities on behalf of industry and in collaboration with the wider life science community. If you want to add your voice please do contact us!
  • Our activities across blog_labour tablethis autumn’s party conference season, including our joint roundtable discussions as part of Life Sciences UK (ABHI, ABPI, BIA and BIVDA) at the Labour and Conservative party conferences. We also review the new Labour landscape following the installation of Jeremey Corbyn as new Labour leader and his shadow ministerial team.
  • An update on Patent Box developments. Following the completion of talks at an international level by the G20 and the OECD on the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project, HM Treasury has issued its consultation on the implementation of the reforms into the UK. Find out more about the changes and our efforts to demystify the policy and potential business implications, starting with the publication of an overview paper – Changes to the UK Patent Box: An Overview, October 2015 – which was prepared in partnership with Confluence Tax.
  • Details on the recently announced PRIME scheme – a new scheme, developed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the EU Regulatory Network, to support development of priority medicines addressing major public health needs. The BIA will be inputting to the public consultation issued on 26 October on the key elements of the scheme, which is scheduled to launch in Q1 2016.

We’re always keen to hear from our members. Which policy areas do you care about; what’s impacting your business and R&D? Do you have a story that would help us to make the case for continuity in what works and to change what doesn’t?

To learn more about BIA’s policy, public affairs and regulatory affairs work, see our previous quarterly policy updates, our consultation responses, or email Zoë with any questions.


Dr Stephen Ward at last year’s bioProcessUK conference

The UK medicine manufacturing industry, one of our leading manufacturing sectors, continues to flourish. Importantly for our industry, the global demand for biologicals and vaccines rises year on year, whilst cell therapies have also reached a stage of clinical maturity. Ahead of this year’s 12th Annual bioProcessUK Conference, Dr Stephen Ward, Chair of BIA’s Manufacturing Advisory Committee and COO of the Cell Therapy Catapult, discusses the impact of recent government investment in the sector, in the form of the newly launched National Biologics Manufacturing Centre and the forthcoming Cell Therapy Catapult manufacturing centre.

Increasing the UK’s manufacturing capability in biologicals, vaccines and advanced therapies strengthens our position as the location of choice for life science companies. The BIA is active in this area, through the Manufacturing Advisory Committee (MAC). The committee acts as a platform for BIA members involved in manufacturing to input into the industrial manufacturing agenda through the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP); advising the National Biologics Manufacturing Centre (NBMC) on industry needs and working with other Innovate UK Catapults and UK Centres of Excellence.

The official launch of the Centre for Process Innovation’s new £38m NBMC in Darlington took place last month. Announced in 2012 as part of the Government’s Strategy for UK Life Sciences, the NBMC will support companies of all sizes to develop, prove and commercialise new biological and vaccine process technologies. The Centre is a fantastic addition to our ecosystem in the UK, significantly increasing our manufacturing development capacity in biologics and bolstering our position as a world-leading location for life science companies. The NBMC was officially opened by Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities and Science and Steve Bagshaw, CEO of BIA member FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, with BIA CEO Steve Bates also invited to speak. For further details on how to utilise the NBMC, do visit the CPI website.

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Jo Johnson at the opening of the National Biologics Manufacturing Centre

Another national asset which is vital to the long term success of our world-class cell and gene therapy sector is the state-of-the-art £55 million Cell Therapy Catapult manufacturing centre, currently under development at the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst. Announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 2014, the centre is designed to allow UK and global companies to have a secure manufacturing supply chain for pivotal clinical trials and early commercial supply. The large-scale GMP manufacturing centre is expected to create up to 150 jobs, and will help create a manufacturing supply chain cluster that shall capture long term value for the UK.

Both of these investments support the growth of the medicines manufacturing industry and will be key on the agenda at this year’s Annual bioProcessUK Conference.

BIA MAC has delivered this year’s programme, centring on the theme of “Manufacturing tomorrow’s medicines today”. The conference will kick off on 25 November with a Parkinson-style fireside chat where experts will debate over the manufacturing and supply chain challenges facing all medicine types and discuss what we can learn from each other. The latest innovations from early stage career researchers will be presented in a snappy poster flash session and there will be opportunity to hear an update from the MMIP on its progress and how you can get involved. The conference wouldn’t be complete without an insight into the recent investment explosion within the exciting immune-oncology cell therapy sector, highlighted by talks from the UK’s leading companies in this field.

The 12th Annual bioProcessUK Conference takes place on 25 – 26 November at the Wellcome Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridge, with the conference dinner taking place at the iconic Imperial War Museum, Duxford where delegates will dine amongst aircraft from across the years. For full programme details and to register your place, visit the conference website.

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The new BIA chair, from January 2016 is Dr Jane Osbourn of Medimmune. On her appointment Jane said: “It has been my privilege to serve as a member of the BIA Board since January 2014 and I am delighted to be taking over as Chair during a period of such great opportunity for our industry. I am also very pleased to welcome our newly elected Board members, who are recognised leaders and bring a diversity of ideas and backgrounds to the team. I look forward to working with Steve and the BIA team to help us all achieve our bold vision for the UK life sciences sector.”

Thank you to members who stood and voted in the BIA board election this year. Dr Darrin Disley, Chief Executive Officer, Horizon Discovery Group, David Hipkiss, Chief Business Officer, Circassia Pharmaceuticals, Dr Andrew Lightfoot, Chief Executive Officer, Peptinnovate, Dr Neil Murray, Chief Executive Officer, Redx Pharma were all elected to the BIA Board by members and Dr Celia Caulcott was re-elected in the her new job as Vice-Provost (Enterprise), UCL Business.

As you will have seen from the raft of national media coverage, the Home Office released the Annual Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals in Great Britain. The BIA remains strongly committed to the three Rs: replacement, refinement and reduction of animal testing, and we will continue to support and encourage all of our members to openly communicate their activities in this area to proactively demonstrate to the wider public how the insight and understanding gleaned from research in animals is used to develop new treatments. The Royal Society of Biology wrote an excellent blog giving further insight to the figures. 

As we draw ever closer to the spending review on November 25th, it is vital that we as an industry continue to pull together to make strong and vocal representations to the government to protect investment in science and translation. Last week, a letter from CaSE on the science budget, signed by current and past Science Select Committee Chairs, was published in The Times. The letter stated: “The government’s aims to rebalance the economy and support high-value job creation are laudable but cannot be achieved without investment. Increasing the science budget and support for innovative businesses will pay dividends for years to come through a healthier, happier society, and a stronger economy.”

Now is the time for bioscience companies to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write to Ministers to help us make the case for continued support for UK life sciences, in the form of basic research funding and also innovation funding such as the Biomedical Catalyst and the Catapults. If you’d like to get involved please contact Zoe Freeman for ideas on how to make the maximum impact ahead of what is set to be a challenging Spending Review this November.

In AMR news this week, announced by the Minister of Life Sciences George Freeman during the Chinese President’s state visit to the UK,  The Medical Research Council (MRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) are joining forces with the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) to establish a joint fund of £9 million to support research on Antimicrobial Resistance. The announcement is part of the UK-China Business Forum.

This week the Wellcome Trust unveiled their updated strategy and revealed that they will be increasing their spending on science to a total of £5billion over five years. The trust’s ongoing approach will be based around three linked themes, and the Wellcome will continue to fund fundamental breakthroughs in biomedicine and health through “advancing ideas”.

Applications for the latest 1851 Research Fellowships are now open to those with 3 years or less post-doctoral research experience and want to conduct innovative research of your own instigation? Research Fellowships in Science and Engineering are intended to give scientists or engineers of exceptional promise the opportunity for early independence. With the objective of contributing to the knowledge base required for a healthy and innovative national culture.

It is also great to see that the Precision Medicine Catapult has announced its 6 centres of excellence, check out the details here.

We welcome the new PRIME (priority medicines) scheme to optimise the development and accelerated assessment of new innovative medicines addressing major public health needs within the current regulatory framework. Biotech companies would benefit from the proposed scheme which offers early and enhanced scientific and regulatory support, in particular SMEs where an early confirmation of eligibility to the scheme could send a strong signal to investors. Launch of the scheme is planned for Q1 2016. The BIA will be inputting to the public consultation issued today on the key elements of the PRIME scheme. If members wish to know more. Contact our Head of Regulatory Affairs

And finally in response to the publication of a new consultation by HM Treasury on Patent Box reform, we published a new overview document of the forthcoming changes and how they might impact the bioscience sector with Confluence Tax. We have engaged with the international debate and look forward to assisting the government in ensuring that the reformed Patent Box scheme continues to provide appropriate tax incentives for highly-innovative sectors such as bioscience.


This week, the Wellcome Trust announced that it aims to invest £5 billion over the next five years to improve health, as it launches a new strategic framework focused on advancing the best ideas in science and research, seizing opportunities as they arise and taking advantage of our independence to drive reform.

‘Why?’ is one of life’s most powerful questions. The Wellcome Trust supports thousands of people across the world asking questions and discovering answers that make health better. Here is their short film to find out why.

Do you have a video you would like the sector to see? Contact us.

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Guest Blog by Nathalie Moll, Secretary General of EuropaBio, the European Association for Bioindustries

I have been active in and passionate about the field of biotechnology for over 20 years because no other industrial sector enhances quality of life, knowledge, innovation, productivity and environmental protection like biotechnology. From new drugs that can address unmet medical needs and fight epidemics and rare diseases, to industrial processes that use renewable feed stocks instead of crude oil, to drought-resistant crops that allow farmers around the world to feed more people under ever-harsher climatic conditions, promoting and investing in biotech pays economic, social and environmental dividends.

However, new developments in biotech continuously push the boundaries of knowledge and invite us to discuss where and how to apply this technology for the benefit of humankind. We must make sure that we engage at all levels of society to take those decisions in the most informed and enlightened way.

This is what motivated us to launch the European Biotech Week initiative three years ago and to contribute to the development of more informed choices at personal and political level regarding biotechnology. This is essential to create the kind of environment which attracts and secures investments, brains and skills, and allows our biotech companies to continue to innovate and flourish in Europe.

The third edition of European Biotech Week took place between 12 and 18 October this year across a record 15 European countries including the UK. With its high-level Bioscience Forum and Autumn Reception, BIA joined over a 100 other activities taking place across Europe in the areas of science, policy, media and finance. Importantly, numerous events took place related to jobs and training including career fairs and hands on laboratories for adults, students and children, competitions, open doors in companies, research institutes and museums as well as theatrical shows. At a national level, the week was even awarded a medal by the Italian President of the Republic.

I would like to invite you to find out more about what happened this year by visiting the week’s website at where an overview of events is available and where we will publish a magazine with photos and highlights from 2015.

Very importantly too, please firmly book the week of 26th of September 2016 in your diaries as the enthusiasm shown by all biotech supporters will once again take centre stage during next year’s edition of European Biotech Week. As a platform for biotech stakeholders to pool their events and activities, this is an open and inclusive initiative, which is entirely free of charge and not driven by any commercial interest. The people, organisations and companies who care about biotech and are active in biotech are the ones that make European Biotech week happen. Join us in 2016!

Conservative party conf

From Brighton to Aberdeen, the BIA policy and public affairs team have been travelling the country to represent the life science industry at the party conferences – here is a quick roundup up of the highlights from each of the events:

Liberal Democrats – Bournemouth

NHS Infrastructure: At the Health Spokespersons’ Q&A session, Norman Lamb MP said the NHS needs up-front investment now in order to meet the challenges of the near future, and responded enthusiastically to the suggestion that updating NHS infrastructure in line with digitalisation, big data and self-monitoring technologies will lead overall to better patient health and efficiency savings.

EU referendum: Former party leader Nick Clegg MP and new leader Tim Farron MP were clear about the party’s line on remaining in the EU and that the referendum is ‘far too important for ambivalence’; a topic that was discussed at length in relation to UK science, by a panel and audience of scientists and engineers at a Science Council fringe event.

Financing: At a session focused on effective financing for company development – with Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Economics Baroness Kramer, the British Venture Capital Association and the London Stock Exchange – the UK life sciences industry was mentioned several times in the context of scaling up ‘hard tech’ businesses. Circassia in particular was mentioned as a public listing that has helped to give the confidence to other company ‘peers’ to grow and invest in the UK, and sparked interest in UK biotech amongst specialist and cross-over investors.

Conservatives – Manchester

Spending Review and the Biomedical Catalyst: We held a successful event with our Life Science UK partners (the ABPI, ABHI and BIVDA) alongside the AMRC. Discussions at the Conference underlined the vulnerability our sector still faces ahead of a tough Spending Review. Accordingly we have reached out to CEOs of our corporate members to make the business case directly to the Chancellor and the Business Secretary regarding the importance of continued support for science and research, as well as for innovation policy funding which supports several initiatives including the Biomedical Catalyst. Thanks to those of you who have now already written in to the Government – letters direct from the companies operating in the UK ecosystem have a real impact on Ministers that shouldn’t be underestimated. To find out more about how you can help please contact Zoe Freeman at the BIA.


Labour – Brighton

R&D and innovation: The Labour party conference was busy with delegates, despite the notable absence of several Labour MPs. With the new Shadow Ministers having been in position for less than two weeks, most of the fringe events focused on fairly broad topics rather than drilling down into much policy detail. However, in her speech at the conference, new Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Angela Eagle MP said that “to win this race, we need to support R&D and innovation which can create the industries of tomorrow. We need to support small business. We need to ensure that business finance is available to exploit the pioneering scientific innovations we are so good at producing in this country. And then we need to convert these innovations into the next generation of world beating companies”. This sounds like a promising start and we await further details of evolving Labour policy.

Industry partnerships: BIA CEO Steve Bates chaired a roundtable event with Life Sciences UK and the AMRC, at which we had a full table of representatives from UK life science business, charities, the local Academic Health Science Network, Brighton and Sussex University Hospital, NHS Providers and learned societies. We were delighted to be joined by Lord Hunt OBE and Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge and member of the Science & Technology Select Committee. Attendees heard about partnerships between different types of organisations that are achieving great results, such as Ataxia UK’s new collaborative drug discovery programme with Pfizer, and Oxford Immunotec’s partnership with the Wolverhampton Refugee and Migrant Centre to tackle tuberculosis in hard-to-engage populations. Lord Hunt was enthusiastic to follow up with this conversation after the publication of the Government’s Accelerated Access Review – it’s great to have his support and active engagement to progress this area.

SNP – Aberdeen

Fiscal powers: The main issue we have been tracking in relation to devolution to Scotland and SNP policy has been fiscal powers. In his speech to Conference, Deputy First Minister and Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Economy, John Swinney MSP announced that from 31 October, all Scottish councils will have the power to reduce business rates in their local area, whilst also underlining the SNP’s objective of ensuring as much financial autonomy from April 2017 as possible through their ongoing negotiation with Westminster on the Scotland Bill.

Steve UKBSF 2015

It was fantastic to see so many of you at our UK Bioscience Forum at the Royal College of Surgeons last week. The event has gone from strength to strength and hugely positive feedback from the 300 plus attendees.

We kicked off the day with the launch of Building the Third Global Cluster: State of the Nation 2015our latest state of the nation annual report produced with EY.  Coverage appeared on page three of the FT and online (Life science chiefs warn cuts will hurt sector – Financial Times), online in City AM (UK bioscience sector secured a record £1.2bn investment last year, but scientists warn cuts will hold Britain back – City AM) and across a range of specialist publications including: UK IS A ‘STANDOUT STORY’ European biotechs finally on sustainable financial footing – Bioworld ,UK biotech thriving – so don’t cut funding, government told  –pharmaphorum and around A Third Of Europe’s Innovation Cash Heads To UK, Says Report – scrip

Life Sciences Minister George Freeman MP spoke at the forum and recognised that our sector needs confidence and continuity from the government. He stated that the BMC was a very effective intervention but emphasised that the UK faces a massive structural change the in our public financing find ways of delivering more for less in the CSR.

As I reminded members last Thursday, now is the time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write to Ministers to help us make the case for continued support for UK life sciences, in the form of basic research funding and also innovation funding such as the Biomedical Catalyst and the Catapults. If you’d like to get involved please contact Zoe Freeman for ideas on how to make the maximum impact ahead of what is set to be a challenging Spending Review this November.

Chief Executive of Innovate UK Dr Ruth McKernan, was also a speaker at the UK Bioscience Forum to discuss the role that Innovate UK is playing in helping to build the sector. Earlier BIA member Discuva won their ‘innovation attracting investment’ award . The drug discovery business attracted £1.1 million in private investment and has signed a multi-million pound partnership with Roche.

In congratulating Discuva, Ruth Mckernan said: “British companies, are preparing for the future with their ground-breaking innovations. They are building new industries, creating new jobs, and driving productivity. These awards celebrate the best of British innovation and I congratulate all the fantastic winners and nominees.”

Last week was of course European Biotech week and it was good to see the Environment Committee of the European Parliament reject the Commission proposal banning the use of imported GMOs. This is a significant result for EuropaBio.  It’s great to see such an anti-biotech law rejected, and they deserve congratulations for helping European institutions see sense. In the health sector we participated in the third EMA-EuropaBio Information Day held in London also as part of European Biotech Week. Discussions focused on three main topics: early access scientific and regulatory tools, achievements of the orphan legislation with regard to product development and marketing authorisation in the past 15 years and challenges ahead, and development considerations of advanced therapy products. Presentations from the conference will be posted on EMA website. It was great that several participants were able to join us for our autumn reception – making new connections across our community.

The end of this week also saw the last of our political Party Conference visits, this time to the SNP annual gathering in Aberdeen. The main issue we have been tracking in relation to devolution to Scotland and SNP policy has been fiscal powers. In his speech to Conference, Deputy First Minister and Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Economy, John Swinney announced that from 31 October, all Scottish councils will have the power to reduce business rates in their local area, whilst also underlining the SNP’s objective of ensuring as much financial autonomy from April 2017 as possible through their ongoing negotiation with Westminster on the Scotland Bill.

European Biotech Week celebrates biotechnology, an innovative and vibrant sector launched by the discovery of the DNA molecule back in 1953. The first European Biotech Week that took place in 2013 marked the 60th anniversary of this pivotal moment in history.

This week, from 13 to 18 October, is the third annual edition of European Biotech Week. Our UK Bioscience Forum, held yesterday, forms part of the celebrations. Check out the interactive map of Europe to see what else is going on across the continent, or watch the video below to find out more.

Do you have a video you would like the sector to see? Contact us.

Concordat logoIt’s been almost 18 months since the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research was launched with signatories from over 70 life science organisations, including the BIA. As of October 2015, 96 UK organisations, including universities, charities, commercial companies, research councils, umbrella bodies and learned societies have now committed to help the public understand more about animal research. In the blog below, we take a look at how the initiative is progressing, following the publication of its first annual report on 29 September.

In May 2014, 72 life science organisations became signatories to the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK, an initiative lead by Understanding Animal Research to enhance communication about animal research across the bioscience sector.

Openness on animal research is not new within the sector – prior to the Concordat, a number of organisations had already undertaken some fantastic examples of communication around the topic. The aim of the Concordat is culture change; creating a shared commitment and critical mass to encourage organisations to take strategic and practical steps towards greater openness.

The publication of the first annual report demonstrates many positive steps forward, with a number of signatories going above and beyond in their efforts to fulfil their role. From dedicated information areas on company websites, to organising lab visits for staff members and allowing the filming of animal research facilities, much has been achieved in the first year of the Concordat.

At a basic level, the inclusion of public facing statements and related material on company websites has made the information much more accessible for a lay-person. Moreover, following the success of many initiatives undertaken through the first year, the Concordat has provided organisations with the confidence to talk about animal research, thereby enabling greater transparency on the topic.

Beagles_animal_researchWith the European Citizens’ Initiative, Stop Vivisection, earlier this year and the ongoing UK Government e-petition against the recently approved beagle breeding facility in Yorkshire, animal research remains a hotly contested topic and such campaigns serve as a stark reminder of the importance of clear communication on the use of animals in research.

Whilst the progress over the past year is commendable, there remains much to do to instigate the desired culture change. The annual report sets out a number of recommendations to help take the initiative forward over the coming years. These include ensuring the harms and limitations, as well as the benefits, of animal research are discussed publically.

You can read the first Concordat on Openness in Animal Research Annual Report in full here. More information on the Concordat, including how to become a signatory, is available on the UAR website.

On Friday 20 November in London there will be an opportunity for company representatives to discuss communication around animal research, including challenges, opportunities and ideas for meeting the Concordat commitments. If you’re interested to find out more, please contact Zoe Freeman.