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Some fantastic news this morning as Syncona, Cancer Research UK and public investment firm BACIT announced a joining of forces to create an expanded £1 billion fund for life sciences. Since it was created four years ago, Syncona has provided a welcome boost to investment in the biotech SME space and following today’s announcement I hope to see this continue apace over the coming years.

The November conference run started in earnest last week, with both BioInfect and the ARM EU Advanced Therapies Investor Day. Up in Alderley Park, the line-up at BioInfect discussed the endemic problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), including the launch of a new report by PwC into AMR activity in the UK. The aim of the report is to map the extent of all AMR research activity in the UK, and discuss whether this is likely to be sufficient to meet the scale of the challenge. This is a great new resource and well worth taking a look if you haven’t already – you can download it in full here. As I highlighted in my closing remarks on the day, AMR is a growing international challenge and now is the time to act. For some insight into what the UK is doing to tackle it, watch our video of the week from our ‘Celebrating UK bioscience’ campaign which features BIA member Redx Pharma and our charity partner from last year, Antibiotic Research UK.

Earlier on Thursday I was in London at the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine’s 4th Annual EU Advanced Therapies Investor Day, chairing a panel (pictured) on how to build a successful environment for the translation of cell and gene therapies. The UK has a world-leading environment for developing these types of therapies, with our fantastic clinical network, translation capability and a society which is open to scientific innovation – outlined by panel members Emma Morris, Professor of Clinical Cell and Gene Therapy at UCL, Keith Thompson CEO of the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and Beth Thompson from the Wellcome Trust. Ed Hodgkin, Syncona, gave his perspectives having recently launched cell therapy company Autolus in the UK.

It was great to hear the panel recognise the integral role held by the MHRA in building a successful environment for cell and gene therapies. Having an innovative and receptive regulator has provided a strong base for the sector here in the UK, and one which looks set to flourish with the opening of the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult manufacturing centre in 2017 and the imminent publication of the report from the Advanced Therapies Manufacturing Taskforce.

Many of you will have spotted across the news last week the High Court ruling on the triggering of Article 50. Since the referendum result in July, the sector has positively engaged with the new UK government to explore the opportunities and mitigate the challenges arising from Brexit. This is an ongoing process and the upcoming meeting on 23 November will continue the shared commitment from industry and government to focus on the key issues for UK life science of talent, funding, financing and regulation.

If you’re out at BIO-Europe this week in Cologne, do stop by our United Life Sciences stand with Bionow, BioPartner and One Nucleus – Ed and Karen from the BIA team will be around for the conference.

Best

Steve