Archives for the month of: September, 2016

Today’s BIA member video showcase comes from SynbiCITEthe Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC) for Synthetic Biology funded by the UK Research Councils, EPSRC and BBSRC, and Innovate UK.

As we look forward to SynBioBeta in San Francisco next week, this week’s video highlights a new £200k annual competition designed to bolster UK companies aiming to solve significant global problems through synthetic biology. The not-for-profit competition offers the winner a combination of £100k cash plus laboratory space, a ten-week accelerator programme with mentorship, consumables and professional services valued at ~£100k. Find out more in the video below.

As part of European Biotech Week, on Wednesday BIA launched a directory listing mentoring and training schemes available to help UK biotech companies build their next generation of leadership and management talent. Download Growing the next generation of UK management talent here.

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

talent-docAs part of European Biotech Week, the BIA has launched a directory of mentoring and training schemes available to help UK biotech companies build their next generation of leadership and management talent.

The BIA’s Vision for the UK life sciences in 2025 sets out ambitious goals for the sector to hit if it is to achieve the overall vision of becoming the world’s third largest biotech cluster – similar in size and scale to Greater Boston today.

One of the goals that the Vision sets out is to have 10 times more management talent as this will enable the sector to grow and succeed both now and in the future.

The UK biotech ecosystem has a strong foundation on which to build new biotech management talent and parts of this ecosystem are already working well. There is some depth in venture capitalist-backed companies in the South with repeat entrepreneurs. There have also been specialist skills from Pharma coming into the sector through the restructuring of research and development organisations.

However, the sector faces critical challenges in securing bright, skilled staff with entrepreneurial flair and leadership élan. Two thirds of BIA members who took part in a survey with the ScaleUp Institute at the end of last year said that they needed more management talent. These skills are critical for successful biotech given the complexity of the development cycle and its funding needs. Deep functional expertise is not enough. UK bioscience needs leaders who combine a depth of related skills and expertise in a single field, with the ability to collaborate across disciplines with experts in other areas and general management skills. Some of this talent exists today, and some is world class, but the UK needs an order of magnitude to build the cluster.

In drug development alone, the BIA estimates that the UK needs at least 130 extra clinical stage management teams and will need yet more talent in other health innovation and support service sectors. That talent needs to be more ambitious, multi-skilled and to have the right leadership behaviours to drive growth and global success.

“However much the industry has grown and matured in the last half dozen years, the pool of proven leaders is nowhere near large enough to meet demand. Each acquisition of an innovative biopharma firm may put another set of executives on the street, but they will immediately receive multiple job offers. The number of companies in the industry is growing much faster than the number of talented people.” Catalyst Advisors 2016 Review and Outlook

What is the BIA doing to tackle the issue?

“Employers need to shift from being talent takers to skill creators. Employers should shift from searching for the employee with the perfect combination of specific skills and experience to creating jobs and businesses that incorporate both formal training, apprenticeships, mentoring models, and active development with on-the job training through assignments and experiences.” Reframing the Talent Agenda: The shift, the race and the riddle

The aim of this directory is to support UK bioscience companies in building the management talent they need and is aimed at people who are already working in UK bioscience or just starting out in the industry. BIA members took part in research with the ScaleUp Institute and the results showed that two thirds of respondents were interested to grow their own management talent and more than half were interested in mentoring and professional support.

This publication aims to support these BIA members and the wider sector to grow the next generation of management talent by showcasing the range of training and mentoring opportunities that are already working to upskill the biotech leaders of the future. The schemes have been put forward by BIA members as they have helped them and their teams to increase their management capabilities.

The opportunities in the directory are aimed at all levels of experience. From getting your first business off the ground, through to honing and developing your existing management skills.

In a world where knowledge doubles every year and skills have a half-life of 2.5 to 5 years, leaders need constant development. This ongoing need to develop leaders is also driven by the changing expectations of the workforce and the evolving challenges businesses are facing, including two major themes underlying this year’s trends: globalisation and the speed and extent of technological change and innovation.

This is a living document and the team will aim to update it in 2017, so if there are schemes you feel would benefit the BIA’s wider membership then let us know.

The BIA will be continuing its work on the talent agenda at the UK Bioscience Forum on October 20th, where there will be a session supported by the BIA’s People Advisory Committee: The next generation of talent – from boardroom to bench. Click here to book your place at the UK Bioscience Forum.



The UK bioscience sector enters the autumn season in rude heath with developments across the sector from significant inward investments, new startups, fundraisings and government investment.

Speaking last week at the opening of new BIA member Alnylam Pharmaceutical’s new building, in the Prime Minister’s constituency of Maidenhead, BIA CEO Steve Bates, said: “This opening is confirmation of the fundamental strengths of the UK life science ecosystem. It is fantastic news for the UK that Boston based Alnylam have chosen the UK for their new European HQ. This is just one of a string of recent announcements from across the sector that shows the UK biotech ecosystem is in rude health, and that the initial shock of the EU referendum has past.”

Alnylam was founded in 14 years ago, with the focus of advancing RNAi therapeutics as a new class of innovative medicines. Alnylam’s platform has the potential to be transformatory for patients with genetic diseases, metabolic heart diseases and infectious diseases of the liver.

Steve added: “It’s fantastic to be able to welcome Akshay Vaishnaw, Executive VP of R&D, and Chief Medical Officer of Alnylam today. Akshay trained in Wales and London so knows well the depth of talent and scientific excellence in the UK.”

Alnylam’s opening is just one of a series of recent highlights for the UK biotech sector, which include:

  • The formation of new companies. GammaDelta a new private companyseeded by Venture capitalists Abingworth was created this month to work on the potential of gamma delta (γδ) cells, to create improved immunotherapy of cancer and other serious diseases. The company also received support from Cancer Research Technology, King’s College London and the Francis Crick Institute.
  • The raising of additional capital by established biotech businesses. In September, Manchester based and AIM listed C4X Discovery raised an additional £5million. New investors Calculus Capital Limited (a leading EIS and VCT investor) and Polar Capital LLP participated for the first time.
  • The raising of additional capital by Life science investors. In AugustCambridge Innovation Capital (CIC) raised £75 million in private financing round. CIC provides long term capital to support the sustained growth of investee companies in the rapidly-growing technology and healthcare sectors. The new funds raised will be used to provide additional investment to CIC’s current portfolio, to invest in new opportunities created at the University of Cambridge and within the Cambridge Cluster and to expand the CIC team to allow the Company to capitalise on its strong inflow of new investment opportunities.
  • Further investment in clinical research infrastructure by the UK government. This month we have seen the UK’s largest ever investment into ground-breaking health research, as the UK government announced the research projects supported by a record £816 million investment. Twenty Biomedical Research Centres will host the development of new, ground-breaking treatments, diagnostics, prevention and care for patients in a wide range of diseases like cancer and dementia. Leading NHS clinicians and top universities will benefit from new world class facilities and support services built by the five-year funding package. Mental health research will see funding increase to nearly £70 million, dementia to over £45 million, deafness and hearing problems will receive over £15 million and antimicrobial resistance research rises to around £45 million.

Despite the positive news from the sector in the UK, Steve Bates stressed that the sector cannot rest on its laurels.  He said: “Also this month we have read of GE plans to invest £150million into a bio manufacturing plant in Cork, Ireland. This shows both the opportunities available in this sector and the globally competitive market for investment. It’s vital that life sciences is central to the UK government’s new industrial strategy and that policies in it ensure the UK is truly globally competitive.”

This week is European Biotech Week and the BIA will be hosting our breakfast meeting in Stevenage, bringing together colleagues from across the sector to update them on the UK EU Life Sciences Transition Programme. Later in European Biotech Week we will be launching Growing the next generation of management talent, a directory of more than 20 mentoring and training schemes.

Good news continues to emerge from the sector and we enter autumn in rude health and ready to take on the potential challenges that we face in negotiating our new relationship with the European Union. I was at the opening of Alnylam Pharmaceutical’s new building, in the Prime Minister’s constituency of Maidenhead. This opening is confirmation of the fundamental strengths of the UK life science ecosystem. It is fantastic news for the UK that Boston based Alnylam have chosen the UK for their new European HQ. This is just one of a string of recent announcements from across the sector that shows the UK biotech ecosystem is in rude health, and demonstrates the confidence of the sector.

AMR took a central position on the world stage with a historic meeting at the UN. It’s fantastic to see this UK led agenda internationalised and that in our own small way the BIA played a part. We have been active over the years on the need for new incentives for companies to work in this area, and have shown the UK capacity to do so through companies like Discuva and Redx. Following this highpoint Lord Jim O’Neil, who has spearheaded the project, chose the moment to resign from the government and become a cross bench peer. You’ll be able to hear the latest from him at the UK bioscience forum – the full agenda of which is here.

I also had the chance to meet with Rajesh Agrawal, London’s new Deputy Mayor for Business last Friday. I was heartened to hear that he and the new Mayor are fully committed to championing the life science sector – a great point of continuity with his predecessor. He was keen to learn more of the work we had done on the Brexit transition programme and already had a sharp understanding of the issues around movement of talent and regulation.

Last week, we held the Women in Biotech evening where the audience heard from Kym Denney about her inspirational career in biotech. She discussed how she leveraged her knowledge across the different businesses and spoke about some of the challenges, like learning to merge company cultures and people. These events are a great opportunity for women in our sector to network in a mutually supportive environment.

GSK have appointed their new CEO, Emma Walmsley, who will become the first woman to head a top global pharmaceutical company and will bring the number of female chief executives in Britain’s FTSE 100 index to seven. She will replace Sir Andrew Witty, who had previously announced his decision to retire on March 31, 2017 and we look forward to working with her in the New Year.

BIA were in attendance at the Liberal Democrat party conference last week where Nick Clegg, as the Party’s Spokesperson for the EU, issued an urgent call to businesses to tell the Government about the priorities and complexities of their sectors. Clegg will be using a ‘Brexit Challenge’ initiative to understand these key areas and hold Government to account, and BIA will be feeding into that work. This week we are at the Labour party conference and I will update you on this in next week’s blog.

The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult published its Annual Review 2015/16, which included statistics on UK industry growth. The Review was launched at the inaugural UK Regenerative Medicine Conference in London hosted jointly by the CGT Catapult and the UK Regenerative Medicine Platform and supported by the BIA. I was pleased to be able to attend the conference and hear the great news that in the UK, investment in 2015 was over £400m at year end, compared to £35m in 2012. There were 42 cell and gene therapy developers in the UK and half of those were considered to be rapidly growing their R&D activities. This represents growth of 90 percent in the number of developers since 2012. This is all fantastic news for the sector and we look forward to seeing cell and gene therapy grow in the UK.



700,000 people die annually due to infections that cannot be treated. The cause? Bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and a lack of diagnostic tools. This video showcases the work of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and a range of partners who are working on a mini portable lab to help improve diagnostics and tackle AMR.


Simon Stevens and Jim O'Neill will be topping the bill at this year's UK Bioscience Forum

Simon Stevens and Jim O’Neill will be topping the bill at this year’s UK Bioscience Forum

The UK Bioscience Forum is hotting up to be the key sector conference this Autumn, and if you don’t have a ticket booked just yet, you might want to take a look at what you’re missing…

With both NHS CEO Simon Stevens and Lord Jim O’Neill topping the bill, the conference will be addressing THE issues of the moment, and bringing together key individuals from government, the public sector, academia and industry to discuss the challenges that face the sector, and importantly the opportunities and successes that we should not ignore.

  • Brexit: we’ll be discussing the work being undertaken by BIA and others to ensure that the EU transition for the bioscience community is coherent and seamless; we’ll also be highlighting investment in the UK in the light of political developments, and addressing the issues around IP harmonisation and the changing international landscape.
  • Innovation: bioinformatics experts from the 100,000 genomes project will update us on the latest developments in the acceleration of new diagnostics and personalised care; we’ll be celebrating the work of Professor Tom Brown as BBSRC Innovator of the Year and showcasing BIA member organisations (including Cambridge Robotics and Autolus) with new innovations to share; hearing from leading microbiome specialists on how increased research in this field could affect drug discovery; and listening to case studies from the UK’s synchrotron – one of the most advanced scientific facilities in the world – on how harnessing the power of electrons at near light speed can benefit bioscience.
  • Drug development challenges: leading figures from Public Health England, GlaxoSmithKline, Review on AMR and Discuva will address conclusions from the AMR Review and what is required to move these through to successful outcomes; and we’ll be updating delegates on developments in the orphan medicine and rare disease field, demystifying the multiple routes for reimbursement and the UK and listening to a range of stakeholders
  • Best practice: our expert panel will discuss the relevance and future of the patent box, along with practical guidelines for companies of all sizes; a ‘next generation of talent’ session will present real-world data on the make-up of today’s UK private biotech boards and discuss what we can all do to support the next generation leadership of our biotech industry; and effective media relations have never been more important than in today’s multi-faceted and fast-paced media environment – our panel will provide insight into best practice on both sides of the equation.
  • Celebrate: we’ll be celebrating the fantastic work undertaken by our sector in the innovation and development of key therapies. BIA have looked at a selection of extremely challenging diseases and explored the ways that our members have worked together to provide new solutions and aids for patients in these areas.  We want to ensure that all key stakeholders understand why our sector is so important and why, as the voice of the sector, we work tirelessly to represent its interests at the highest levels.

As if all that isn’t enough, the price also includes entry to our BIA Autumn Reception to finish off a packed day with a great opportunity for networking with new contacts and catching up with old ones.

Book your ticket here – we look forward to seeing you on 20 October!

NEW UKBSF FOM 720 x 215dpi3


From the Apprenticeship levy to Brexit, the shifting policy and skills landscape will mean change ahead for the science industries. The Science Industry Partnership (SIP) is making its voice heard on all these issues and assessing the implications for industry around the key challenges the sector is facing. Malcolm Skingle, Director, GSK and Chair of the SIP board, details their recent work below.

In recent months, the UK has witnessed the outcome of the referendum on European Union membership – which sees us moving towards a “Brexit”.  We’ve also seen the publication of the Sainsbury Review – which set out the most significant transformation of post-16 education in decades, and of course April 2017 sees the introduction of the apprenticeship levy.  Here we explore these events, and some other key developments in the landscape.

Skills moving from BIS to DfE
Skills are now entirely under the remit of the Department for Education (DfE) having been moved from the control of the former Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) –  since replaced by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). On the face of it the opportunities created by integrating FE, Skills and Apprenticeships with schools could bring a more seamless approach to transitioning from learning to work and reflects the ambition of the Government’s recent Post 16 Skills Plan (see below). However the SIP is clear that there needs to be a continued strong link between Skills and Industrial Strategy and we will continue to engage with and work closely with both BEIS and the DfE to support their ambition and ensure the clear overlap is factored into policy thinking.

Apprenticeship levy
The Government recently confirmed that the apprenticeship levy is going ahead as planned. While it is focused on larger employers, it is also linked to a wider apprenticeship reform agenda that impacts on all employers.  The SIP wholeheartedly supports the Government’s plans to boost apprenticeships, with its own ambitious target for 20,000 coming into the sector over the next 5 years.  However, we want to see the Government carefully managing all the risks involved. If we don’t get the transition to the new system right, there’s a real danger that the uptake of apprenticeships will be adversely affected. Robert Halfon, the new Apprenticeships and Skills Minister has described the successful introduction of the levy in April 2017 as the “single most important” aspect of his new role. The key dates for the levy are 6 April, when payment of the levy starts, and 1 May, when the funding system comes into effect. SIP comment on the levy

Sainsbury Technical Review
July saw the publication of the long-awaited report from the Sainsbury Review of Technical Education and the resulting Government Post-16 Skills Plan. The SIP believes this Plan is good news for learners and employers, as it provides an unprecedented opportunity to position academic and technical qualifications on an equal footing. The core of the plan sees the development of 15 new “pathfinder” technical routes, which include STEM options in Health and Science and Engineering and Manufacturing. The SIP is a ready-made employer panel to lead on STEM Standards for the new routes; it plans to work with the new Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education to shape the learning and set out universally agreed standards for the new routes proposed. The key dates for the Skills Plan are October 2017 when the technical qualification content will be developed for the new routes and September 2019 which will see teaching of the routes begin. Full Skills Plan

HE White Paper
In May, the former Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) published its HE White Paper, Success as a Knowledge Economy: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice. SIP members recognise that the UK has a global reputation for a high quality university system, and it is highly supportive of the Paper’s focus on the quality of teaching, more transparency around performance and ensuring students are prepared for the world of work.  Government has said that this will all be delivered through a new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).  SIP employers are already committed to playing their part in building a business-ready scientific workforce, at all levels.  Support for Student Internships in industry, Degree Level Apprenticeships and specialist Masters Level courses are a key feature of the SIP’s Operational Plan. The full TEF structure will be introduced over the next 4 years.   Full HE White paper

The UK is still getting to grips with its decision to leave the EU and the SIP is seeking clarity on the skills agenda post “Brexit”.  We have called upon Government to reassure employers that skills policy will not be subject to further change. Areas under the spotlight for the science industries include what the decision means for EU nationals working in the UK, the ability to recruit  skilled individuals and the impact of Brexit on UK Science.  The UK has a world leading science base – but a key concern is continued access to talent. This is supported by the SIP’s recent research which forecasts the sector’s demand for skilled people out to 2025 – a projection of between 180,000 – 260,000 new scientific staff, many in new technology-based occupations. Of course the exit from the EU will not happen for at least 2 years; however SIP members recognise the need to be proactive and to work with the Government to ensure the very best environment for science-based companies.

Devolution deals are providing specific localities with the power to make their own funding decisions and the SIP is also engaging with bodies such as Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) on industry priorities. Indeed, it has successfully bid for a number of local projects which are delivering science skills into the sector. We can also expect the Government’s Autumn Statement later this year; the Chancellor Philip Hammond has said, “now we are entering a new phase in the story of the British economy with the decision to leave the European Union. Our economy will change as we go forward to the future and will require a different set of parameters.” So we await the statement with interest.

For further information on skills support offered through SIP membership contact


There were a couple of important announcements to note from Government last week. Following the publication of the final recommendations from Jim O’Neill’s review on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) back in May, the government has published its response to the review and the second annual progress report on the UK 5 year AMR strategy – read the press release here.

Lord O’Neill’s review made 10 recommendations on how to best prevent the challenge of AMR. The recommendations include raising awareness of AMR globally, reducing the use of antibiotics in animals and improving hygiene to help stop the spread of infection. The UK government response accepts these recommendations as part of its ongoing AMR strategy.

The second annual progress report describes what was achieved in the second year of implementation of the UK 5 year AMR strategy, including a number of significant achievements on the international stage. Important to note for industry was the launch of a new £4m AMR competition from Innovate UK last week. More details on our Funding Opportunities page. The briefing webinar is today from 4 – 6pm so do move quickly if you’re interested.

This is an important step in the global fight against AMR. However the UK government alone cannot drive this forward – it requires a coordinated international effort. Tomorrow the UN General Assembly in New York are being asked to commit to a resolution to tackle antimicrobial resistance. This is only the third health issue the UN have ever held a meeting about, in itself representative of the scale of the issue. BIA will continue to keep a watching brief and provide an update on any developments in next week’s blog.

The government’s commitment to tackling AMR was also picked up in the second positive announcement from last week, of a new £816 million investment in health research by the Department of Health – the largest ever investment into health research. Antimicrobial resistance research will see funding increase to around £45 million, dementia to over £45 million, deafness and hearing problems will receive over £15 million and mental health research rises to nearly £70 million. Great news for the sector.

You’ll have noticed that a new Government health Bill was introduced last week, the Health Service Medical Supplies (Costs) Bill – details here. This is something we’ll be keeping an eye on and if you have any comments please do get in touch.

If you’ve been following our work around the impact of Brexit on the life science sector, or if you haven’t and are looking for an easy way to catch up, do register for this Thursday’s free webinar hosted by Scrip, where myself and other panel members take a look at the issues and opportunities as UK life sciences define a new relationship in Europe. Details here.

On BIA events, please note that the BIA Annual General Meeting will take place on 20 October following the UK Bioscience Forum and preceding the Autumn Reception – it would be great to see you there. The ballot is now open for the election of five Directors of the BIA. Full details of the ballot process were sent to the primary contact at each BIA member organisation, but you can find all relevant information, including profiles of the candidates (pictured above), here. Polling closes on 14 October 2016.

We’re looking forward to another of our Women in Biotech events tomorrow, hope to see you there.



This week’s video comes from the Wellcome Trust.

The UN General Assembly on the 21 September provides a critical opportunity for the global community to act on one of the great health challenges of the 21st Century. Resistance to antibiotics and other drugs threatens many of the benefits of modern medicine.

It’s a growing problem because drugs are being overused and misused, which means that microorganisms (such as bacteria, funghi, viruses and parasites) are developing resistance quicker. Infections such as gonorrhoea, tuberculosis, MRSA and pneumonia are harder to treat. At the same time, there’s a diminishing supply of drugs to combat infection, and the pipeline of new drugs is weak.

United global action is essential. Show your support and tell the United Nations to #ActOnAMR

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

Last week we held the latest in our series of BIA member webinars, which focused on cell and gene therapy, with guest speakers Dr Sven Kili and Dr Emily Culme-Seymour from GSK, Michael Hunt of ReNeuron and Dr Damian Marshall from the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult.

With emerging technologies and new clinical trials being developed and launched, the webinar examined just a few of the advances and evolution in the development of cell and gene therapies over the last couple of years, as well as business models and commercial milestones.

Joined by almost 100 participants on the webinar, BIA CEO Steve Bates noted the keen interest inspired by this sector.

Dr Sven Kili kicked things off with an introduction to the BIA’s Cell and Gene Therapy Advisory Committee, on which he holds the position of Chair. As a key area of focus for the BIA, the Committee’s expert input helps to inform BIA positions on relevant policy issues – such as the current Select Committee inquiry into Regenerative Medicine and, when it is published, the Accelerated Access Review.

Alongside the growing interest in cell and gene therapy witnessed in recent years, the area has also seen a growth in clinical development and likewise, investment. GSK is investing heavily in cell and gene therapy, and during the webinar Dr Emily Culme-Seymour outlined some of their ongoing projects of interest, including in GSK’s rare diseases portfolio. As for the future, the cell and gene therapy environment continues to evolve and Emily highlighted the benefits of utilising a more collaborative approach to the development of novel therapies, such as partnerships with SMEs and academia.

Next up was Michael Hunt, Chief Financial Officer of ReNeuron. Having been AIM-listed since 2005, Michael observed that the funding landscape has evolved over recent years. Michael gave an outline of ReNeuron’s therapeutic pipeline, covering treatments across the diverse areas of retinitis pigmentosa, motor disability from stroke, and critical limb ischaemia.

Finally, Dr Damian Marshall provided an overview of the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult’s analytical platform for characterisation of cell therapy products, which allows data to be integrated from multiple platforms to analyse the biological, chemical and physical properties of cell products.

Watch the webinar in full below.