Some notes from last week’s trip to San Francisco to kick off the blog this week. Hopefully you’ve all recovered from any jet lag over the weekend.
As always, San Francisco provided a great backdrop for the hectic week of meetings, presentations and receptions, that was JP Morgan week. It was great to see so many of you at the United Life Sciences’ informal kick off drinks hosted by myself and Harriet Fear on the Sunday evening before the conference began in earnest, and also at the BIA/AstraZeneca/MedImmune reception on Wednesday evening.
The conference jolted into action on Monday with BIA member Shire’s long-awaited announcement that it will combine with Baxalta in a $32 million takeover. As Flemming Ørnskov, CEO of Shire put it “If I were British, I’d be pretty proud of the fact that someone can start a small company 30 years ago and, through the same strategy, basically get to be close to a top 10 company in the FTSE…It shows that growth and innovation does not just happen in the US.”
The state of global stockmarkets in the first couple of the weeks of the year concerned many at the conference. I sensed from discussions in San Francisco that the outcome of the US presidential elections will occupy the minds of many there up until 8 November, with the potential to impact US investment thinking. The flipside of political deadlock in the US is that the inability to reform tax there helps ensure our regime remains competitive and attractive, a strong advantage for the UK.
From our community there were plenty of positive discussions to be had around the UK sector and whispers of upcoming announcements – watch this space. One thing I will be watching with interest through 2016 is the establishment of London as the global hub for life science related IP commercialisation IPOs, something we’ve already seen in 2015. Research into the microbiome looks set to be a hot topic for the coming year.
Overall a great week which has provided much food for thought – see our blog tomorrow for more of the new collaborations and others key takeaways from the week.
Very sad news from France this week with the death of a volunteer in a clinical trial in Rennes and the hospitalisation of five others. The MHRA have put out a statement which makes clear that “there is no clinical trial taking place in the UK with this product nor has it been used in a clinical trial in the UK in the past.” We will keep a watching brief as investigations for any regulatory or policy implications.
Last Wednesday was a busy one with our Parliamentary roundtable co-hosted with MRC, AMRC, ABPI and BIVDA on the shape and future of the UK medical research landscape post-Spending Review, plus the NIHR Parliament Day and BIS annual stakeholder reception.
The roundtable was a great opportunity to discuss the outcomes of the Spending Review and Nurse Review and recent Government proposals on higher education, with a particularly engaged group from across the political spectrum. Liberal Democrat Lord Sharkey chaired the meeting and the nine MPs – Conservatives, Labour, SNP and DUP – asked many insightful questions. Attendees included senior representatives from each of the organising bodies, including Prof Sir John Savill on behalf of the MRC. Proposals on Innovate UK grants and the establishment of Research UK were hot topics and, notably, a common thread throughout the discussion was the need for more detail and clarity on proposed changes to the landscape. For more detail, take a look at BIA’s submission to a related Government consultation on the proposed changes.
The BIA was also pleased to attend the NIHR’s inaugural Parliament Day, celebrating its 10th birthday, hearing from both George Freeman and Sally Davies and checking out some of its latest successes. The NIHR have also written us a blog this week looking at the growing influence of technology in healthcare – do take a look here. From there we hotfooted it to the Science Museum for the BIS annual stakeholder reception with Sajid Javid.
This month the BIA will be finalising its input to the 2016 Budget. One element we will be raising is how a new relief on capital investments could positively impact the medicines manufacturing sector as part of the BIA’s support for the MMIP partnership. I’d be very grateful if you could take just 2 minutes to complete the a short survey which will help strengthen the case we put to the Treasury. The deadline is midnight 26 January.
Next week I will be appearing before the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee to give evidence on the influence of EU membership on UK science, building on the BIA response we submitted to the inquiry at the end of last year. I think it will be a great opportunity to explain some of the practical considerations for our sector in the context of a forthcoming EU membership referendum and I look forward to speaking to more of you on this important issue as that agenda evolves.
Those of you who with a current or potential R&D interest in London – commercial property advisory company Creative Places is leading a study to explore how London should develop to promote better collaboration, productivity and growth for companies involved in life sciences R&D. The company is working with MedCity, university and NHS partners, the London Enterprise Panel and the GLA to analyse how London can deliver what industry, research centres and health services need in order to underpin the innovation pipeline – from research to the adoption of new products and services. Life sciences and healthcare companies with a current or potential R&D interest in London are asked to provide input by participating in this five minute online study.
A couple of items for your diary towards the end of 2016, as I’m pleased to announce that this year’s Annual bioProcessUK Conference will be taking place at St James Park in Newcastle on the 23-24 November – more details to follow. Also announced last week, the Inaugural UK Regenerative Medicine Conference will take place on the 20-21 September – details are available on the UK Regenerative Medicine Platform website.
I’m looking forward to seeing many of you next week for one of our busiest weeks of the year, with the 2nd Annual Future of Healthcare Investor Forum, the Gala Dinner and the first Board meeting for 2016.