jane pic for Newscast

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 cabouzeid@bioindustry.org.

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.