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.