As I’ve discussed in this post across the summer we’ve been working on the opportunities and challenges of the UK leaving the EU for our sector. Last week was an important week as the work BIA members have been engaged with was shared with the government for the first time.

Last Tuesday the UK EU Life Sciences Steering Group, chaired by Andrew Witty of GSK and Mene Pangalos (representing Pascal Soriot) of AstraZeneca, helda constructive first meeting. It discussed how and why the Government must prioritise life sciences in their Brexit negotiations and industrial strategy with Government Ministers and officials from No 10, Department of Health, Department for Exiting the EU, No 10 and the Office for Life Sciences. A key outcome was to continue the dialogue with industry working with Government, to ensure that the priorities of the life sciences industry are understood as the government plans Brexit negotiations and Industrial strategy. The UK has a world-leading life sciences sector with a tremendous heritage of delivering medicines that transform the lives of patients everywhere. This is beginning of an exciting and also challenging process but we believe that Brexit also presents us with unique opportunities.

To recap for those who don’t follow this weekly, it was agreed at the Ministerial Industry Strategy Group meeting in July, that BIA and ABPI would undertake work to address the challenges and identify the opportunities for the industry as the UK prepares to leave the EU. Since then we have worked with a range of member SMEs and multinationals, as well as stakeholders and the Office for Life Sciences and the MHRA, over the summer to deliver this work. The BIA and ABPI worked together with PwC to produce a report on initial thinking. This report represents members views in August. It focuses on potential key issues and opportunities in the new environment and has informed the policy areas that need to be addressed by industry and Government working together going forward. I want to thank the many BIA members (and staff) who have put in many hours of engagement over the summer on this project.

What’s now clear (much is not at present) is that industrial strategy is becoming more important as we go forward. We at the BIA will be putting in a response to the Business Select Committee inquiry into industrial strategy. The submission will be largely based on existing policy priorities including those included in the BIA Vision document such as refilling the Biomedical Catalyst. We would welcome suggestions of additional policies that should be considered and they should be sent to Martin.

The party conference season kicks off this weekend in Brighton with the Lib Dems. We’ll also be in attendance at the Labour, Conservative and SNP offerings as we hit Autumn – updates to follow.

Finally, European Biotech Week is back between 26 Sept and 2 Oct this year. We’ll be taking part with our breakfast event in Stevenage, and you can take a look at other events taking place across the continent on the website here. In other upcoming BIA events – it’s just over a week to go until our next Women in Biotech networking evening where we’re delighted to have Kym Denny, Chief Executive Officer, hVIVO as our guest speaker. More details here.