SynBioBeta_WillettsThe forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review remains high on the BIA’s agenda, and is just over two weeks away. This week I will be co-Chairing a roundtable discussion with Treasury Minister David Gauke MP at Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst where I and a selection of BIA member companies will be making the case for science, research and innovation policy funding. This follows a mention of our lobbying work in Parliament last week when Daniel Zeichner referenced one of our member CSR letters – in this case Discuva – to illustrate our perspective on the latest grants vs loans rumours. The BIA-backed All Party Parliamentary Group has also written to the Chancellor and Business Secretary on this issue, which was featured in yesterday’s Sunday Times. With today’s report on the science budget from the Science and Technology Select Committee (to which the BIA submitted to) stating that the government should “retain the current system of innovation grants, rather than loans as a key policy tool, alongside R&D tax credits, for de-risking innovation investment” it is great to see the pressure being kept up across the board.

On policy matters, PwC’s Strategy& have been engaged to support the Accelerated Access Review by investigating international pricing and reimbursement schemes and how they may apply to the UK. You can have your say by taking part in a short survey on the strengths, challenges and attractiveness of different pricing and reimbursement schemes for the UK . The survey closes for input this Friday 13 November, so do complete any responses before then. More information is available on the AAR website.

It was great to see and catch up with many members having a productive time partnering at at BIO-Europe in Munich. On the other side of the pond, for the third year we travelled to San Francisco with the UK delegation to SynBioBeta, a key conference for the synthetic biology (or ‘engineering biology’) community. BIA members among the delegation were SynbiCITE (who funded and organised the trade mission), Synthace, Synpromics, Touchlight Genetics and ZuvaSyntha. An important change at the conference this year though was the increased level of interest in the UK companies, as evidenced by the numerous conversations and business leads generated around the vicinity of the UKTI lounge area. As well as seeing exciting new start-ups emerging, it’s great to see the UK synbio scene maturing too, as highlighted in the recent announcement from BIA members Synthace and MSD on their collaboration to develop a biomanufacturing platform for a number of undisclosed molecules. We’ll be posting a blog with more highlights from the mission and conference soon, including Lord David Willetts receiving a SynBioBeta award for his work supporting the UK synbio industry (pictured above).

In the run up to the 12th Annual bioProcessUK Conference at the end of the month, I was delighted to announce Dr Mark Carver as this year’s recipient of the Peter Dunnill Award for Outstanding Contribution to UK Bioprocessing, in recognition of his skill, passion and dedication to the bioprocessing industry. Over the past decades he has played a significant role in the UK bioprocessing sector which, with the continued support of individuals like Mark, continues to establish itself as a global leader. Mark, Senior Vice President R&D and Innovation, FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, will be presented with the award and will give the Peter Dunnill Award lecture at the conference on the 25th November. The full conference programme is available to view here.

I’ll be travelling to Alderley Park this afternoon for BioInfect which kicks off tomorrow. Also on AMR, European Antibiotic Awareness Day takes place on Wednesday 18 November. The BIA will be hosting a tea party on the day as part of the Great British Tea Party, organised by our charity of the year, Antibiotic Research  UK. There’s still time to apply for a fundraising pack – more details here.

I’m looking forward to speaking at the 3rd Annual European Advanced Therapies Investor Day on Thursday and seeing some of our member companies present, including Cell Therapy Ltd and ReNeuron. Also on investor events, the London Stock Exchange will be running an early evening event on 1 December around accessing US capital in life sciences for companies and VC investors from the UK and European life science ecosystem. If you’re interested in the event, contact Chris Mayo.

For those interested, the MRC Regulatory Support Centre has been working in partnership to develop a number of resources that support health informatics research, including a recent publication providing practical tips on how to access data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). Following on from the barriers analysis conducted earlier in the year, this practical guide for researchers includes tips on obtaining the necessary approvals. It was developed jointly with the HSCIC and will be a living document, updated regularly as HSCIC processes evolve.

Finally, a reminder that Export to Japan will be holding a free webinar next Wednesday 18 November to learn about the new legislations introduced by Japan’s Health Ministry, which aim to support fast-track opportunities for orphan and innovative drugs for UK companies in Japan’s pharmaceuticals market. Find out more and sign up here.