The BIA’s campaign to refill the Biomedical Catalyst paid off this week as the new government announced £100m for a new scheme at the Conservative Party conference. Thanks to all who have lobbied on this campaign. It shows the difference a consistent, clear and well-argued case can make. Do join us to celebrate this success at the Autumn Reception after the BioScience Forum next Thursday.  Going forward, BIA is working with Innovate UK to ensure the new scheme’s schedule and process is speedily explained to BIA members – watch this space.

The government also set out their plans for industrial strategy and Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech named life sciences as one of the key sectors for economic growth in the UK. She said: “It’s about identifying the industries that are of strategic value to our economy and supporting and promoting them through policies on trade, tax, infrastructure, skills, training, and research and development. It’s about doing what every other major and growing economy in the world does. Not just sitting back and seeing what happens – but putting in place a plan and getting on with the job.

“So we will identify the sectors of the economy – financial services, yes, but life sciences, tech, aerospace, car manufacturing, the creative industries and many others – that are of strategic importance to our economy, and do everything we can to encourage, develop and support them.”

It is great to see the government recognising the contribution that UK life sciences makes to the nation’s wealth and health and that we are seeing sustained investment in the sector.  This is a theme that came through strongly in fringe meetings and face to face meetings and demonstrates the impact of our work over the summer on the UK EU Life Sciences Transition Programme.

As we shall see across the weeks and months before Brexit there will also be lots of chatter in the press which won’t become policy. I’m glad to see the government backtracking already on plans outlined by the Home Secretary for companies to list non UK workers who they employ. The UK life sciences sector is part of a wider global ecosystem and we are lucky enough to be able to access some of the best talent in the world and for UK talent to be able to move freely. We will also be discussing this at this week’s BIA CEO Dinner – members can still register for this on the website. 

Last week I attended a Brexit sub-group meeting on regulation with MHRA, Department for Exiting the EU and the Office for Life Sciences.  Government has recognised the issues around regulation raised in the Transition Programme and is engaging industry via this sub-group.  BIA are also working with Government on a number of other sub-groups, including around access to finance and the NHS.

Time is running out to get your tickets for the UK Bioscience Forum  – this year’s agenda is jam packed with the issues that are affecting the sector, and as the UK looks to negotiate its relationship with the EU – there has never been a more important time for the sector to get together to look towards the future.

Last week the synthetic biology community gathered in San Francisco for this year’s SynBioBeta conference. A great line up of speakers over two days covered some of the hottest topics for the growing synbio community, including a strong representation from the UK. Our blog of some of the highlights to follow.

Announced at the conference, congratulations to BIA members Synpromics and Ingenza who both received accelerator funding from the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre, part of a $1.5 million investment for synbio projects.

The latest MMIP Newsletter has been released and includes updates on the MMIP fiscal guide and webinar, as well as the advanced Therapies Manufacturing Taskforce – you can read the full update here.

The Intellectual Property Office has published an updated Lambert Toolkit, which is intended to help academic or research institutions and industrial partners who wish to collaborate on research projects. The resource includes model collaboration and consortium agreements that can be used to facilitate negotiations between potential partners and reduce the time, money and effort required to secure agreement.

Richard Archer’s funeral will be held at the Cambridge Crematorium West Chapel this Thursday at noon. In recognition of his contribution to the field of stem cell therapy as well as its potential to contribute massively to future healthcare, Richard’s family have asked that any personal donations be made to the UK Stem Cell Foundation.  His widow Susan has thanked me for the kind messages she has received from people in the sector who knew and worked with him.