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.”