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The new £40 million Apollo Therapeutics fund launches today. The fund is a unique collaboration between BIA members AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and J& J Innovation, and the technology transfer offices of Imperial College London, University College London and the University of Cambridge, to support the translation of ground-breaking academic science into innovative new medicines for a broad range of diseases.

It’s fantastic to see these partners, across industry and academia, coming together to support the development of UK science. The fund will add to a growing momentum behind life sciences investment in Britain, providing support for high-risk early stage innovations to ultimately develop the treatments of the future. BIA Board member Ian Tomlinson will chair it, and if successful, I hope could broaden or lead to similar initiatives with other universities.

The buzz around the UK sector will continue through the week with many BIA member presenting at the 2nd Annual Future of Healthcare Investor Forum at the London Stock Exchange on Wednesday and our Gala Dinner this Thursday, where over 650 of us will be catching up with key contacts, making new ones and saying our fond farewells to Dippy the dinosaur  – updates following both to come next week.

Our sector was also in the global spotlight at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last week. More than 80 leading international pharmaceutical companies and key industry bodies, including the BIA and many of our members, joined forces to sign a declaration to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The UK innovation ecosystem has a lot to contribute to this global challenge. BIA members that have signed up so far include: Absynth Biologics Ltd, AstraZeneca plc, Auspherix Ltd, Discuva Ltd, GlaxoSmithKline plc, Novabiotics and RedX Pharma. The Declaration sets out how governments and industry need to work with one another to support sustained investment in new products needed to beat the challenges of rising drug resistance. This is the first time that commercial drug developers have agreed on a common set of principles for global action to support conservation measures and the development of new drugs. The declaration also makes the call for all governments around the world to move forward from existing statements of intent and to work with the industry to take concrete action. Your company can still sign up at www.amr-review.org.

NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens also chose Davos to launch the first wave of NHS Innovation ‘Test Beds’. First outlined in the NHS Five Year Forward View, these collaborations between the NHS and innovators aim to harness technology to address some of the most complex issues facing patients and the health service. The idea is that successful innovations will then be available for other parts of the country to adopt and adapt to the particular needs of their local populations. It’s great to see BIA member MSD teaming up with Verily Life Sciences (formerly Google Life Sciences) on one of the projects to be delivered alongside NHS Heywood Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group. In a sense it’s a shame that the thinking here hasn’t extended to early access to medicines yet and I look forward to hearing more about the projects as they progress. You can find out more about the initiative here, including details on the five NHS Test Beds chosen.

Our latest quarterly review of BIA policy and regulatory affairs activities is now available to download here, covering the period from October to January. This great summary document  includes details on Spending Review outcomes, further developments with PRIME and the Accelerated Access Review, our recent ATMP briefing and the implementation of the EU Clinical Trials Regulation. Our analysis of implications following the Spending Review also touches upon the Nurse Review and, for further detail, we have produced a summary table – available to view here.

A quick reminder that early bird rates for SynBioBeta London, taking place this year from 6 – 8 April, are available until 6 February. You can view the agenda here for further information.

And finally, I’d like to draw your attention to a recent announcement from the Home Office that there are seven vacancies to be filled on the Animals in Science Committee. Do take a look and apply if of interest.

I look forward to catching up with many of you through the course of the week

Best

Steve