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.