BIO2016_Ncast banner

First and foremost, it’s my pleasure to congratulate Harriet Fear, CEO of our United Life Sciences partner, One Nucleus, on her MBE for services to the healthcare and life sciences sector, awarded in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List over the weekend. A fantastic recognition for both her hard work and achievements, and also for the biotech sector.

BIO2016 took place last week in San Francisco and BIA were there, representing and promoting the UK biotech industry. One Nucleus held a successful dinner on the Sunday night, followed by a breakfast featuring insightful talks from J&J and Philips Healthcare on the merging of tech and healthcare. Bionow organised a lively KPMG-hosted roundtable to discuss life sciences in the northern powerhouse – highlighting the strengths of the region, attractiveness to overseas investment and huge contribution within the UK biotech hub.

As the California Primary result set up a Trump versus Clinton Presidential election campaign, US politics was a recurring theme in conversation as was, to perhaps a surprising extent, our own EU referendum. Several themes were recurrent throughout the week, including:

  • empowerment of the patient, enabled by technology and data
  • payment reform towards value models
  • importance of partnerships and collaboration where solutions are challenging – leading to the co-creation of integrated solutions and shared accountability

Unsurprisingly, AMR featured strongly with a packed session considering innovative approaches to the challenge (lead by IMI), and another on incentives, exploring the need to address the market failure that occurs in the development of antibiotics and ‘de-link’ revenues from usage.

As always, the conference saw the launch of a number of interesting global sector-based reports, including EY’s latest Beyond Borders, Scientific American WorldVIEW, new work from analysts Pugatch Consilium and an analysis comparing host countries for life science companies in Europe from KPMG, EuropaBio and Venture Valuation. What’s great to see is whatever the basis of the analysis the UK competes strongly globally as a leading life science hub, going up the rankings in several surveys.

It was great to see so many BIA members represented out in San Francisco, and also to catch up with our international counterparts as part of the International Council of Biotech Associations (ICBA), which hosted the inaugural Global Life Science Industry and Ministerial Meeting on the eve of BIO last week.

That’s it for my brief highlights, but do explore the BIO YouTube channel for a whole host of video interviews and highlights from the week.

Meanwhile, in the UK, we hosted a roundtable meeting for Birmingham business leaders, academics and clinicians with the Life Sciences Minister, George Freeman MP, to discuss how the region’s strength in life sciences could be built upon. Large patient cohorts and advanced clinical trial infrastructure were highlighted as particular strengths but national issues such as uptake of innovation in the NHS were also mentioned as challenges that need to be overcome.

Following the meeting, George Freeman hosted a press conference and was joined on a panel by local research leaders to speak to journalists about the region’s life sciences sector and the value of EU membership. You can see a video clip here. Local press in the East of England have also been taking an interest in the impact of the referendum on the life sciences sector, with BIA member Harren Jhoti of Astex Pharmaceuticals being interviewed by ITV East Anglia. The report is worth watching.

Continuing on the theme of the EU, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has published its report on EU regulation of the life sciences following an inquiry held earlier this year. The BIA submitted written evidence to the enquiry and Steve Bates appeared in front of the Committee to answer their questions. The BIA has been quoted extensively throughout the report and our key messages are echoed in its conclusions – that EU membership brings net benefits to the UK life sciences sector through harmonised regulation, greater patent protection, support for research collaboration and funding.

The KTN launched a new Medicines Discovery UK Landscape last Wednesday. This new tool is designed to map the innovation landscape in medicines discovery – showcasing the UK capabilities and enabling added leverage from external collaborations, from outsourcing to strategic partnerships. You may remember seeing the Medicines Manufacturing and Precision Medicine landscape versions previously.

Also taking place last week, some fantastic news as BIA member Mereo BioPharma listed on AIM following a £14.8m fundraise – congratulations to Denise and co. You can hear more about the company on this Thursday’s webinar as CMO, Dr Alastair MacKinnon joins Glyn Edwards of Summit Therapeutics, David Fellows from NightStarX and Dr Tim Guilliams of Healx to discuss advances in research and development in rare diseases. There’s still time to register here if you would like to join in.

It’s a busy week for the BIA with the latest in our series of Women in Biotech events taking place on Wednesday and a further roundtable with George Freeman MP in Cambridge on Thursday – and look out for some exciting new material from the BIA on financing of the sector towards the end of the week.

Best

Steve