Photo by Rob and Bekki

It’s now clear that life science businesses are at the centre of the new government’s economic policy. Philip Hammond’s first Autumn Statement contained lots of opportunity for our sector, including £4.7bn of additional research and innovation funding providing a “substantial increase in grant funding through Innovate UK”, a review into patient capital led by Wellcome Governor Sir Damon Buffini, and a Treasury led review of R&D tax incentives, which the BIA called for in its submission ahead of the Statement. It was confirmed that the Biomedical Catalyst will allocate £10m in 2017/18 and £30m per annum after that until 2020/21. In addition the British Business Bank has been allocated £400 million to support VC. Thank you to members who enabled our voice to be heard at this crucial time, this is a great result for all your and our hard work  – the BIA blog on the Autumn statement is here.

Last Wednesday also saw the next meeting of the UK-EU Life Sciences Steering Group, the latest step in an ongoing dialogue between the sector and the Government on the important role the Life Sciences sector has to play in the UK outside the EU.  Following the first meeting in September, BIA has been working with the ABPI and Government to address some of the key issues raised, including regulation, trade and access to finance.  I was glad to be able to answer member’s questions and update on our member webinar on Friday, held jointly with the ABPI.

The industry will continue its collaborative working relationship with Government on the key Brexit issues. In addition we will be working with Government on life sciences industrial strategy – what this work will look like is something that we are currently working with Government on and I will engage members as soon as I have more that I can share. BIA last week published a background document on bioscience industrial strategy, which you can download here. We’ve seen a number of strong signals from Government in recent months, and I’ve had encouraging talks with both the Prime Minister (see picture above) and the Chancellor over the past week who both recognise and understand the importance of the sector. We will continue to work together and with Government, towards a common goal of delivering an environment that supports the growth of the industry, adds value to the wealth of the country and which brings new, life-changing medicines to patients.

More positive news continued in the UK with BIA member Kymab announcing a $100m Series C, led by Chinese investors, indicating the international attraction of UK biotech. The fundraise is the joint fourth-largest of 2016 so far, and the largest for a private UK biotech this year. It was also great to hear another BIA member, GHO Capital, announce the successful final close for GHO Capital Fund I LP, a €660 million private equity fund which has been raised to seize the “highly attractive and underpenetrated investment opportunity in European healthcare”.

The BIA team were in Newcastle for much of last week at the 13th Annual bioProcessUK Conference – a great few days amongst the UK’s thriving bioprocessing community. The first Richard Wilson Impact Award was presented to Dr Tony Bradshaw for his ongoing commitment to the bioprocessing community, from establishing bioProcessUK (part of the KTN) and driving the issues central to this sector, to setting up the annual conference and nurturing and developing talent and skills. The winner of this year’s Peter Dunnill Award for Outstanding Contribution to UK Bioprocessing was Professor Nigel Titchener-Hooker from the Faculty of Engineering Sciences at UCL. He delivered an inspirational lecture drawing on his experience working with Peter Dunnill himself and followed these lessons learnt through to his own research and desire to accelerate the development of biopharmaceutical processes and the challenges which these present. As always a fantastic conference bringing together the bioprocessing community and fostering debate and stimulating discussion across this dynamic industrial sector.

The conference also saw the launch of the Advanced Therapies Manufacturing Taskforce action plan, outlining a strategy on how the UK can become the global hub of advanced medicinal therapy manufacturing and ensure the long-term success of this industry in the UK. This plan was shared with Ministers at the MISG meeting on Wednesday and soundly endorsed. The taskforce itself was launched by the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP) earlier this year and is co-chaired by Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Jo Johnson MP and Ian McCubbin, SVP North America, Japan & Global Pharma Supply, GlaxoSmithKline. The Government has recognised the ambition within the sector for the UK to become a global hub leading on research, development and manufacture of advanced therapies, seeing regenerative medicine as one of the eight great technologies. Securing these in the UK through future Industrial Strategy will support the UK’s agenda to drive productivity, exports and inward investment and help to capture the estimated over £300m worth of business available.

Last Tuesday BIA Board member Will West gave evidence to the Commons Science and Technology Committee for its inquiry into managing intellectual property and technology transfer. Will did an excellent job representing BIA members, telling the committee that there are many good examples of Technology Transfer Offices in the UK but more needs to be done to spread best practice and make it easier for SMEs to engage with universities.

If you’re at the Patients First conference today, come and say hello where we’ll be showcasing our videos and material from our Celebrating UK Bioscience campaign. And looking forward to the end of the week with One Nucleus, our United Life Science partner, hosting this year’s Genesis conference.