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Led by the BIA and ABPI, on Sunday over 90 of the UK’s leading life science companies joined forces to sign an open letter published in the Observer, warning that leaving the EU could add risk to the wealth and health of the nation by bringing uncertainty to the industry, adding barriers to investment in the UK and threatening access to the latest medicines – you can read the letter and full list of signatories on our website here, plus the accompanying article in Sunday’s Observer. It’s vital the UK remains engaged in the EU to influence legislative and regulatory policy developments affecting the life sciences ecosystem.

The industry warning comes on the same day government published new statistics revealing the life sciences sector in the UK has grown to £60.7 billion, with the UK’s EU membership shown to be key to the sector’s expansion – read the press release here. The stats come from the latest BIS ‘Strength and Opportunity’ report, which also indicates growth in the number of companies and employees – download the report and infographics here.

I doubt you’ll have missed that London has a new Mayor. Labour’s Sadiq Kahn was announced as the winner late on Friday night after a bitterly-fought race. Sadiq’s manifesto acknowledged London’s strength in the life sciences industry and promised to champion business. A key first test will be whether or not he decides to renew funding for MedCity, which has been a great success since it was established in 2014 by Boris Johnson. We look forward to working with Sadiq in his new role and will be publishing a blog tomorrow taking a more in-depth look at the London result, as well as the outcomes of the devolved government elections.

Last Wednesday we teamed up with the MHRA to host our sixth joint regulatory conference, Accelerated Development and Access to Innovative Medicines for Patients, addressing hot topics and the latest developments to support innovation and optimise pathways and timely access to new medicines. Our stellar line up of speakers opened with an update on the Accelerated Access Review (AAR) from Sir Hugh Taylor, Independent Chair of the AAR, and Professor Sir John Bell, Chair of the review’s Expert Advisory Group. Both expressed their thanks for the level of engagement with the review, which will release its final report following the EU Referendum. As Sir John Bell puts it, we’re in an age of fantastic development in science and the AAR hopes to capitalise on this and ensure that the best innovations are identified early, given adequate support and ultimately pulled into the healthcare system to deliver benefits to patients.

Two years on from its launch, the UK’s Early Access to Medicines Scheme (EAMS) was under the spotlight at the conference with views from the MHRA, industry, NICE, NHS England and charity Cancer Research UK. The overarching view from across the panel was that it was encouraging to see the scheme growing and evolving. However there is still a question to address in terms of whether the success of EAMS is limited in its currently un-funded format.

Over the course of the afternoon, we heard from speakers on the early access tools available at a European and US level, including an update on the EMA’s adaptive pathways pilot project and new PRIME initiative. Dr Jordi Llinares, EMA, confirmed that following the second submission deadline last week, a total of 26 applications have been received for PRIME across a wide range of therapeutic indications. He also revealed that of the 18 applications made under the first submission deadline, 11 were from SMEs – great news for the scheme.

We’ll be posting a full round-up of highlights from the day on the blog, and you can also use our Storify story to check out what was covered on the day.

As in previous years, EuropaBio have launched their Most Innovative European Biotech SME Award – now in its seventh year. This is a great opportunity to showcase the strength of our biotech SMEs here in the UK, with companies regularly reaching the final stages of the competition (including BIA member RedX Pharma in 2015). More details are available here and I do recommend you take a look.

In BIA member news, congratulations to Arecor, Magnus Life Science and Sphere Fluidics who join the latest cohort of LSE’s ELITE programme, a three part service of education, business support, mentoring and access to an ecosystem of professionals fostering growth and innovation. Watch the video here to find out more. The programme welcomes a new group of companies every six months and are now accepting applications for the next intake to join. If you are keen to find out more about applying or would like to make a nomination do contact ELITE directly.

This Thursday we’ll be gathering at Instinctif Partners for our Evening with Clive Dix, this year’s BIA Lifetime Achievement Award winner, interviewed by Brenda Reynolds. Clive was appointed as CEO of C4X Discovery last week, so we look forward to hearing about his ventures going forward as well as a look back over the last 20 years.

Best

Steve