Archives for the month of: February, 2016

BIA Committee Chairs 2016

You may have noticed us across the media this week (including the Financial Times, BBC News and Bloomberg) as, following the reveal of the date for the EU referendum, we published a letter in Wednesday’s Financial Times co-signed by over 50 UK biotech companies.

The UK’s membership of the EU offers various advantages to the UK life sciences sector. The sector is growing and continually evolving as one of the key high-tech, high-growth sectors that the UK’s economy needs. Our industry is a global one where the UK already punches above its weight.

Continued engagement with, and reform of a more competitive EU offers the UK the opportunity to build on previous success. The established joined-up system for our highly regulated sector across this single market – the largest by volume in the world – benefits patients and citizens. It is also the secure foundation we need to future-proof growth for a 21st century bioeconomy that yields benefits for the UK.

This is an agenda we’ll continue to work on over the coming months, both publically and behind the scenes, in the lead up to 23 June. If you’re interested in adding your voice, please do get in touch.

Elsewhere last week, it was great to catch up with our eight Advisory Committees at our 2nd Annual Committee Summit, reflecting on some of the work they’ve achieved over the past year – contributing to industry reports, developing briefing papers for BIA members on areas such as the Patent Box and the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court, delivering excellent conference programmes for both bioProcessUK and our joint event with the MHRA (do note that registration for this year’s event is well underway) and inputting to a number of consultations at both a UK and a European level – some fantastic achievements and I look forward to seeing the 2016 priorities progress though this year.

In a somewhat timely fashion, last week also saw the launch of Biodesign for the Bioeconomy: UK Synthetic Biology Strategic Plan 2015 – something the SynBio Advisory Committee and its Chair, Tim Fell, had been providing input to through last year. The report builds on the 2012 UK Roadmap for Synthetic Biology and outlines the next phase of strategic direction for this growing technology area. Find out more and read the report in full here.

In other news, the CHMP adopted the final document on PRIME, a new scheme to support the development of medicines addressing unmet medical needs, as well as revised guidelines on the implementation of accelerated assessment and conditional marketing authorisation. The documents are expected to be published on the EMA website in early March – we’ll keep you updated with any developments.

Finally, on Friday the Access to Medical Treatments (Innovation) Bill had its second reading in the House of Lords. The Bill, now sponsored by  Chris Heaton-Harris MP, has evolved since its original ‘Saatchi Bill’ incarnation in the last parliament, to address concerns around patient protection and medical negligence. It also now includes clauses to establish a national database recording the use and results of innovative and off-label medical treatments. Some concerns remain, for example as voiced by the AMRC about whether primary legislation is indeed required to established the database and whether it may adversely impact on patient enrolment onto clinical trials. We will keep members informed as it progresses to report stage.

Enjoy BioWales this week,



This is Innovate UK’s second installment of essential selections of business tips and advice for start-ups and small businesses. The video outlines and explains the most important factors for a business when trying to pitch for investment and includes actionable advice supported by comments from industry experts and investors.

The tips are as follows:

  1. Target the right investor for you
  2. Prepare an engaging deck
  3. Sell the upside…And yourself
  4. Follow up after your pitch

Watch the first installment, featuring tips on securing funding for start-ups and small businesses, here.

Do you have a video you would like the sector to see? Contact us.

Our 2nd Annual Committee Summit takes place in London today, where we’ll be hearing from each of our eight Advisory Committees on their 2015 objectives and key issues and priorities for 2016. Here we take a look at our Committees focussing on the fields of synthetic biology and cell therapy and regenerative medicine, two areas identified by policy makers as technologies in which the UK is set to be a global leader – part of the “Eight Great Technologies” initiative. Find out more in these infographics: synthetic biology and regenerative medicine.

Cell Therapy and Regenerative Medicine Advisory Committee (CTRMAC)

CTRMAC is one of our most popular committees with over 30 member companies taking part, many of which are involved in the R&D of cell and gene therapies. In 2015 the Committee welcomed Cell Medica and Cellular Therapeutics into the fold.

The Committee maintains close links to the wider cell therapy and regenerative medicine sector – the newly renamed Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult hosts the majority of CTRMAC meetings and through the year we’ve had guest speakers from the ATMP Manufacturing Community (amc) and UK Regenerative Medicine Platform (UKRMP).

In 2016 the Committee will be working in alignment with our Regulatory Affairs Advisory Committee priorities in reviewing NICE’s forthcoming mock appraisal of a CAR-T cell therapy, and will align with manufacturing issues and the Manufacturing Advisory Committee regarding the supply chain of viral vectors for gene therapy. Once the Accelerated Access Review report is released this spring, CTRMAC will focus on the implications for cell and gene therapies, particularly on pricing and reimbursement of advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs).


Synthetic Biology Advisory Committee (SBAC)

In 2015 we were pleased to welcome SynbiCITE, the Innovation and Knowledge Centre for Synthetic Biology, as a new member of both BIA and SBAC. For the third year running, a number of SBAC members (this year Synpromics, Synthace, Touchlight Genetics and ZuvaSyntha) were represented on UK trade mission to San Francisco, organised and funded by SynbiCITE with UKTI support.

Following on from the 2012 UK Roadmap for Synthetic Biology, the Synthetic Biology Leadership Council, with ministerial level input, has this week published the next phase of strategic direction for this growing technology area – Biodesign for the Bioeconomy: UK Synthetic Biology Strategic Plan 2016.

Speaking at the launch of the plan yesterday, Life Sciences Minister George Freeman MP outlined a vision for the growth of this innovative sector in the UK, ensuring the UK maintains its position as a global leader. In conjunction with this, SBAC’s core aims in 2016 include to continue to showcase strengths in the UK sector, which is likely to include company engagement at the popular SynBioBeta conferences in London (6 – 8 April 2016) and San Francisco, and to increase investor awareness of and engagement with UK synthetic biology.


Find out more about our eight Advisory Committees on the website, or read our recent blogs on the Finance and Tax, Intellectual Property, and the Communications and People Committees.

BIA membership continues to grow by 25% each year. In today’s blog we take a closer look at the 300+ companies which make up our membership.


The BIA currently has over 300 members. Ranging from innovative start-ups and SMEs, to multi-national companies, our members are responsible for over 90% of biotech medicines currently in clinical development in the UK. To keep up to date with the latest news from our members, do check out our Member News page.

313 members


Our goal is to secure the UK’s position as a global hub and the best location for innovative research and commercialisation. The BIA brings organisations from around the UK together to network and share best practice. Click on the image below to visit our interactive map and see where our members are located, across the UK and beyond.


Business Areas

BIA member companies work in a number of areas, whether biotech, pharmaceutical, academic, service providers or others. The bar chart below illustrates the various business areas which our members focus on.

BIA Members' Focus

Research Areas

Those members focusing on R&D and manufacturing are working in a variety of therapeutic areas, from antibiotics to vaccines, and everything in between. The BIA’s charity of the year for 2016 is type 1 diabetes charity JDRF.Research AreasNew members

In 2015, 59 new members joined the BIA. To view the full list of companies within BIA membership, why not visit the BIA member directory.BIA members 2015


For more stats on the BIA see our Year in Numbers.


GalaDinnerSo the big news this week is the future of Britain’s membership within the EU will be decided in 4 months, with the in-out referendum now set for 23 June.

All eyes were on the EU summit in Brussels at the end of last week as David Cameron worked to secure an EU reform deal, aimed at keeping Britain in the EU. Following lengthy negotiations, and the tabling of multiple “English meals”, a deal was agreed late on Friday and subsequently the date for the UK’s first referendum on Europe for 40 years was revealed by David Cameron on Saturday. Having previously given evidence before the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee on the influence of EU membership on UK science (our initial written response can be viewed here), BIA will continue to take a more proactive stance on this issue in policy and the media – so expect to see us in some press coverage this week.

Also on the policy front, on Friday we responded to a consultation on the proposal to integrate Innovate UK with Research UK, the accounting body that will link the seven research councils together. All these proposals have come out of the Nurse Review of research councils and the Spending Review late last year. We urge the Government to continue engaging with the sector as they flesh out their plans, so that Innovate UK can continue to support businesses to translate research, to innovate and to scale up, with a view to generating economic benefit. We also state that its essential that ‘business as usual’ be maintained for funding recipients during any restructure, and that fit-for-purpose initiatives must be in place to support high risk, high innovation sectors such as bioscience.

Elsewhere in the sector, it was positive to see T-cell therapies once again commanding the national (and international) headlines last week, following an announcement of encouraging early clinical trial results at the annual meeting for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). If you’re not familiar with the basics, this Guardian article contains a video explainer with some fantastic images. Progress in the field of immuno-oncology has been remarkable over the past few years – at our 2014 Annual Lecture, immunotherapy was identified as one of Dr Stephen Minger’s hot picks for the next 25 years – but it’s still likely to be a number of years before these treatments make it to market and ultimately into patients. Nonetheless, it’s good to celebrate such achievements in the sector.

A quick note on funding, as the Department of Health is to invest up to £10 million as part of a new SBRI competition aimed at supporting the development of vaccine candidates, vaccine platform technology and vaccine manufacturing technology. The competition opens at the end of the month, with the KTN running two consortium building events in support of the competition, taking place in London (29 February) and Edinburgh (4 March). More details on our Funding Opportunities page.

Finally, for those of you who need easing into the working week, photographs from our renowned Gala Dinner which took place at the end of January are available to view in full here or you can watch a slideshow of some of our favourites below.

Looking forward to some good discussions at our Committee Summit on Thursday – see you there



Last week we were joined by Riley Doyle, CEO of Desktop Genetics, and Dr Abel Ureta-Vidal, CEO of Eagle Genomics, for our latest member webinar examining the impact of bioinformatics on drug discovery.

The recent flood of data from genome sequences and functional genomics has given rise to the field of bioinformatics, which combines elements of biology and computer science. Hearing from companies at the heart of bioinformatics, watch the webinar below to find out more about the latest developments in the field and how it can help accelerate drug discovery.

Do you have a video you would like the sector to see? Contact us.

MediWales event

Last Thursday we travelled to GE Healthcare’s Innovation Village in Cardiff for our joint event with MediWales. Find out more about the day in their guest blog below.

After many years of investment drought and with significant support from national and regional Governments, UK life science funding hit a 10-year high in 2015. To celebrate and explore this exciting time for the life science industry, MediWales and the BIA collaborated to deliver the event ‘Investing in innovation – the future of life science in Wales’ at GE Healthcare in Cardiff on 11th February 2016. The programme included investor and political panel discussions, a talk from the London Stock Exchange, a Welsh industry showcase, technology presentations, and tours of GE Healthcare.

The day began with refreshments and a key networking opportunity before the presentations. Talks opened with a welcome from Paul Michael from GE Healthcare, who discussed the importance of an organisation’s culture and mind-set for creating success. Following this, Gwyn Tudor, CEO of MediWales provided an overview of the Welsh life science landscape and MediWales’ place within it as the life science network for Wales, announcing a record 180 member organisations.

Next, Beena Pancholi, BIA Business Development Executive outlined the BIA as the UK’s leading voice to Government and policy makers for bioscience, and introduced a video presentation by Steve Bates, CEO of the BIA, discussing recent developments in the UK and international investment landscape. The talk also highlighted that the research council will protect the science budget for rapid response to diseases such as Ebola and Zika, and Steve gave an update and comment on the comprehensive spending review.

After a networking break, the company showcases from BIA and MediWales members commenced, featuring Calon Cardio, MedaPhor, Purolite, CatSci, Aber Instruments and BBI Solutions. Read more about the company showcases here.

During the lunch break, delegates had the opportunity to join a range of tours of facilities at GE Healthcare. After networking, the talks kicked off again with a presentation from the Stock Exchange, as Chris Mayo, Consultant of Primary Markets, gave an overview of the life science financing environment. Providing key insight from the investment community, Chris explained that 2014 and 2015 were the best years for healthcare and life science on the stock market for a decade. He also highlighted the junior growth market, emphasising that investors will support companies who are pre-clinical and not yet ready for commercialisation.

As a significant event for investor ready SMEs and start up companies, the day allowed investors, innovators and enablers to connect, with briefings on the latest developments in raising finance and fundraising in the life science sector. The afternoon saw our Welsh technology features, followed by an investor panel. The companies featured included Neem Biotech, TrakCel, Moleculomics, Jellagen, Sure Chill, Fulcrum, and CMD. Read more about the Welsh technology features here.

The top investment tips were:

  • Melanie Goward, Finance Wales: “Networking. Build partnerships and credibility.”
  • Andrew Evans, Geldards LLP: “Get your contracts right and make sure your figures add up. Get an accountant and have IP. You need to look investable and know where your value is.”
  • Stuart Plant, IP Group: “Don’t be scared of dreaming big. We like a big story.”
  • Justin John, Welsh Government: “Collaborate, join clusters and position yourself near other companies. Disruptive technologies come from small companies and entrepreneurs; be brave.”

The event finale involved a political discussion panel, exploring what the future holds for the life science industry in Wales. This allowed our members to debate with politicians and influence policy makers. Key conclusions from the panel discussions were:

  • Julie Morgan – Labour, Cardiff North AM: “Life science is essential for the development in Wales. Playing on Wales’ connectivity is a key strength; we are a collaborative nation.”
  • Amelia Womack – Green Party, Deputy Leader: “It is important to focus on education and continue getting Welsh scientists into universities. We could set up more technology hubs, set up mentoring schemes, and create platforms for opportunity.”
  • Nigel Copner – Plaid Cymru, Blaenau Gwent Candidate: “There is plenty of innovation in Wales, we need to continue exploiting ideas bringing them forward.”
  • Jeff Cuthbert – Labour, Caerphilly AM: “The NHS must increase training for clinical scientists. New treatments are evolving and the nature of illness is constantly changing because we are an ageing nation.”
  • William Graham – Conservative, South East Wales AM: “We have put forward a £50m pledge for future research.”

For more information, contact Tess Coughlan-Allen ( on +44 (0) 2920 473 456 or visit

VisionContinuing our February focus on the BIA’s eight Advisory Committees, ahead of our second Committee Summit later this month, today we take a look at how the People and Communications Advisory Committees are helping to drive the talent agenda.

At the inaugural BIA Committee Summit in April 2015, the BIA launched its Vision for the UK Life Sciences Sector in 2025 outlining an ambitious vision to build the third global biotech cluster behind global leaders, the US heavyweights of Massachusetts and California.

The provision and cultivation of industry talent is key to achieving this vision and was identified as one of 10 themes to drive the change needed over the next decade to install the UK as the third global biotech cluster. If we are to reach this goal, the sector will need at least 130 extra clinical stage management teams and will need yet more talent in other health innovation and support sectors. That talent needs to be more ambitious, multi-skilled and have the right leadership behaviours to drive growth and global success.

With expertise from HR professionals across the biotech sector, tackling the industry’s talent agenda and the challenges laid out in the vision document is an important focus for the BIA’s People Advisory Committee (PAC). Key Committee members sought feedback on some of these challenges as part of a session at last year’s UK Bioscience Forum in October, with discussions around mentoring and nurturing the next generation of biotech talent in the UK. This focus will continue into 2016 with direct input into a document that is part of the BIA’s Celebrate activity that will signpost mentoring and personnel development opportunities that exist for those working in the sector. The project will also involve the Communications Advisory Committee (CAC) who will provide support and advice.

This celebration of current UK bioscience talent is a continuation of recent BIA activity celebrating the UK’s vibrant sector, including the publication of a report back in June 2015. Listed as another of the 10 themes for change, celebrating sector success was identified as an important driver in achieving our vision for 2025.

The UK bioscience sector continually produces great success stories around scientific discovery and financial successes alongside amazing patient stories that demonstrate the human impact of the sector but they remain under-sung. To mobilise for change, we need to celebrate our success more, champion the sector internationally and create the positive momentum to make our vision reality. Acting as a critical friend on BIA communications activities, CAC members will continue to input to the Celebrate project in 2016, alongside other BIA campaigns and publications. With an extensive network of communications expertise, Committee members can help to amplify the profile of BIA campaigns and provide a diverse source of contacts from across the industry for comment.

Keen to learn more? Then do come along to the Committee Summit on 25 February and learn more about the work of PAC and CAC alongside the six other areas of focus from our Advisory Groups – Cell Therapy and Regenerative Medicine, Finance and Tax, Intellectual Property, Manufacturing, Regulatory Affairs and Synthetic Biology. Registration closes this Friday.

BIA MediWales eventAs we start the half-term week where things tend to quieten down for a few days, it is worth reflecting on a busy time in policy as various initiatives and meetings closed down before Parliamentarians too take a mid-term break.

Last Tuesday, as part of Life Science UK, we convened the first meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Life Sciences in 2016 on the topic of access to funding for the life sciences sector. MPs Kit Malthouse, Chris Green and David Rutley heard from representatives from the medical biotechnology, medtech, in vitro diagnostics and pharmaceutical industries, discussing fiscal initiatives that work well for the sector. Guest speaker Graham Silk, Chair of the Greater Birmingham Life Sciences Commission, spoke about the potential that the devolution agenda has to offer new funding models. Attendees also voiced their thoughts on proposals out of the recent Spending Review and Nurse Review, such as the shift of £165m of Innovate UK grants to new financial products and how they can best be shaped to suit innovative R&D in high-risk sectors like bioscience. This is a topic on which the BIA continues to engage with relevant policymakers.

The meeting took place the day before the BIS Select Committee closed its inquiry on the topic of access to funding. The BIA took the opportunity to input to showcase our sector’s perspective on this important issue. Last week also saw the close of the consultation of the Cancer Drugs Fund consultation and the final stakeholder event on the Accelerated Access Review before the final report is published in April. The BIA continues for both policy initiatives to be viewed in parallel and the importance of ensuring a consistent and globally compelling definition of the early designation breakthrough model here in the UK.

I was disappointed not to be able to be at the MediWales event on Thursday in person but feedback from the team is that this was a brilliant opportunity to meet the best in Welsh biotech with some informative company showcases, including Purolite and Neem Biotech, profiling the great companies growing in Wales. Chris Mayo from the London Stock Exchange highlighted the strength of the markets and we hope that this will encourage more Welsh companies to engage with the London Markets as they seek the financing that they need. As if in a show of the current market strength, it was great to see BIA member Shield Therapeutics float on AIM at the end of last week – congratulations to the Shield Therapeutics team. I was also interested to note a piece in this week’s Sunday Times, speculating another big London listing for 2016 in the form of new BIA member, Oxford Nanopore – read it here. Both positive signs that the UK IPO window remains open despite a choppy global market.

A big thank you to BIA members GE for hosting the event at their impressive Innovation Village site and providing all visitors with the opportunity to check out their labs and facilities.

Elsewhere in the community, applications for the Royal Society’s Pairing Scheme are now open until 9 March. The scheme is an opportunity to build greater cooperation and awareness between the political and scientific spheres. Each year 30 research scientists are paired with UK parliamentarians and civil servants to learn about each other’s work by spending time together in Westminster and the researcher’s institutions. Those taking part gain an insight into how research findings can help inform policy making, and come away with a better understanding of how they can get involved. If you’re interested in taking part, more information is available here.

Finally, I look forward to seeing many of you at the BIA Committee Summit at the end of next week at Simmons and Simmons. I’ve seen some fantastic agendas from all of the committees and some ambitious priorities for the year so this should make for an action packed event that truly showcases the collective power of the BIA membership. Registration for the event will close on Friday, so do sign up here if you plan to attend. In the lead up to the event, we’ve been showcasing the work of some of our committees on the BIA blog including the Intellectual Property and the Finance and Tax Advisory Committees. Do take a look.



Did you know, that just one new drug can cost on average £1.15Bn and take up to 15 years to develop?

BBSRC invested in research underpinning a promising company called C4X Discovery who have since revolutionised the drug discovery process.

For more information visit: