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.”