Archives for the month of: December, 2016
Merry Christmas from the BIA team!

Merry Christmas from the BIA team!

In a year of election surprises, government reshuffles and pivotal clinical trial results, we approach 2017 as a sector on strong footing and well positioned to navigate the new global landscape.

The resilience and quality of the UK biotech sector is evident in the number of recently announced fundraisings, company launches and wider supportive ecosystem developments, such as the new £1 billion Syncona fund and the final approval of mitochondrial donation from the UK fertility regulator. If you haven’t seen it already, there’s a great piece in today’s Times from Matt Ridley, which outlines the long line of biomedical innovations at which the British excel. Our hard work and swift reaction following the EU Referendum result has ensured that life sciences remain a government priority and we will continue to engage with government going forward as we look to establish the sector as a key pillar in the ongoing industrial strategy work.

As we look to develop a sector-wide approach, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is seeking evidence to help shape a UK bioeconomy strategy. The aim is to produce a strategy which will foster a world leading bioeconomy which is appropriate to the UK’s industrial structure and availability of natural resources. The survey is a series of questions which will help scope out the opportunities, challenges, barriers and enablers of the bioeconomy. Find out more here.

A tumultuous year has resulted in a particularly busy period for the BIA. Our latest Year in Numbers infographic looks at some of the key figures from 2016, including submitting over 20 consultation responses, achieving over 100 media mentions on Brexit and delivering 33 events across the UK. But one of the stand out figures for me this year was the £100 million committed to re-filling the Biomedical Catalyst.

The BIA was instrumental in securing the launch of the Biomedical Catalyst and has made its continuation a key campaign focus since 2013. The consistent campaigning of the BIA and our members has ensured that this key source of early-stage funding for UK bioscience companies will continue to support the development of new life-changing medical treatments, diagnostics and devices, and underpin economic growth for the future. It is a great example of a lobbying success and our new infographic details the campaign timeline, from 2009 up to 2016. Download it here.

In January we’ll be celebrating and showcasing the UK life science sector at one of the busiest weeks of the international biotech year – do join us as part of the UK delegation to JP Morgan 2017 in San Francisco.

There’s lots going on this year, including a UK reception at Marines Memorial Club, Heritage Room, 10th Floor, 609 Sutter Street on Monday 9 January, 8-10pm (please contact Jane Wall to register Biotech Showcase takes place alongside JP Morgan where I’ll be chairing a panel discussion on the real threats and opportunities of Brexit on Monday 9 January from 11-12pm. Panellists will include Lord Prior (UK Department of Health), Eliot Forster (MedCity), Chris Mayo (LSE Group) and Alison Dennis (Fieldfisher LLP). For further details on Biotech Showcase and the panel, visit the website. And finally, in preparation before you fly, BIA will be running our usual webinar on Thursday 5 January, 11-11.45am – providing the latest information on who is attending, what is going on, and how to make the most out of your time in San Francisco during one of the busiest Biotech weeks in the calendar. Sign up to the webinar by registering on this page.

But for now it’s now time for a well-deserved break! The BIA offices will be closed between Christmas and New Year (26 December to 2 January), and will re-open on 3 January.

Many thanks once again for all your input this year, without it we wouldn’t be in the strong position we are.

Merry Christmas


A light-hearted Christmas video treat to end the year, as we showcase the Dance Your PhD live performance by Dr Jyaysi Desai from EuropaBio’s 20th Anniversary Gala Dinner.

Do you have a video you would like the sector to see? Contact us.

As we head towards Christmas, we take a look at BIA’s year in numbers…



The UK BioIndustry Association ‘Celebrating UK Bioscience’ campaign highlights the impact that the UK bioscience industry makes on delivering ground-breaking treatments to patients. The state-of-the-art Cancer Research UK – MedImmune Alliance Laboratory (CMAL) is an innovative collaboration between charity Cancer Research UK and BIA member MedImmune, established to accelerate the translation of research into potential new drugs. Find out more below.

Cancer starts when cells change abnormally. Gene changes cause a cell or cells to begin to grow and multiply too much, which can lead to the formation of a tumour. One in two people in the UK will get cancer in their lifetime. There are over 200 different types of cancer and many different approaches to treatment.


In September 2015, a new laboratory was opened in Cambridge to focus on the discovery and development of novel biologic cancer treatments and diagnostics. The state-of-the-art Cancer Research UK- MedImmune Alliance Laboratory (CMAL) is an innovative collaboration between charity Cancer Research UK and MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca.

In this important partnership, scientists from both organisations work together in the laboratory and collaborate closely to share knowledge and expertise to accelerate the discovery and development of novel biologics to treat and diagnose cancer. The CRUK-MEDI Alliance Laboratory is focussing on rare and hard to treat cancers, including cervical, pancreatic and leukaemia.

cmal-graphicThe alliance brings together Cancer Research UK’s cancer biology expertise with MedImmune’s world-class human antibody drug discovery expertise. Cancer Research UK provided set up and operational funding for the laboratory as well as contributing a portfolio of novel drug targets together with a team of scientists. MedImmune oversees the laboratory activities and provides access to its human antibody phage display libraries and established antibody engineering technologies.

Phage display allows researchers to quickly scan through millions upon millions of randomly generated antibodies (a special type of protein normally produced by our immune cells) to find ones that recognise important molecules involved in cancer or other diseases. First developed in the 1980s by Cambridge scientists, phage display is an immensely powerful research tool that has already led to the discovery of a ground breaking treatment for auto-immune conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease called adalimumab.

The CRUK-MEDI Alliance Laboratory will accelerate the translation of research into potential new drugs. Opened in 2015, the lab is on track to have its first candidate ready for clinical trials in 2019.

Watch our video and hear more about the Alliance Lab and from Tony Selman, patient and Cancer Research UK ambassador.

You can also download our accompanying infographic here.


Last week we announced Alzheimer’s Research UK as our charity partner for 2017. I’m delighted to be working with Hilary Evans and the team at Alzheimer’s Research UK next year. Dementia is not just an inevitable part of ageing. It’s caused by diseases that we fight through research. The charity’s high profile campaign work has played a pivotal role in raising the profile of dementia research in the UK and they play an active role on the ground working through the Dementia Discovery Fund and other initiatives to invest in the pioneering research taking place across the globe.

The BIA worked with the charity this year as part of our Celebrating UK Bioscience campaign that looked at how the Dementia Discovery Fund, launched in 2015 by Alzheimer’s Research UK, the Department of Health and global pharmaceutical companies, supported BIA member Gen2 Neuroscience in its work to tackle dementia. You can watch the video here.

As we welcome our new partnership, we must also say a big thank you to our partner this year, JDRF. It’s been a fantastic year of collaboration, raising awareness of type one diabetes and the important role of UK bioscience in ongoing research. 2016 was also a big year for the charity, which celebrated its 30th birthday. Have a read of our guest blog from Rachel Connor, Director of Research Partnerships at JDRF in the UK, which details some of the highlights.

Great to see BIA member Oxford Nanopore announce a £100 million fundraising today – with Kymab’s recent $100 million Series C and Oxford Sciences Innovation also raising £230 million we’re seeing a strong end to the year.

On Wednesday I attended the first meeting of the Life Science Strategy Board. The Strategy Board, chaired by Sir John Bell and supported by OLS and Wellcome, will be developing a life sciences industrial strategy focused on driving economic growth for Government by the end of March. This is in line with broader Government industrial strategy. The Board includes industry, NHSE, Wellcome Trust, CRUK and AMRC and in parallel a Ministerial led Government group will also focus on life sciences industrial strategy. Seven workstreams have been identified: science base and research; availability of skilled people; accelerated, innovative regulation; NHS collaboration and uptake; data and digital; clusters, growth and fiscal; and manufacturing. The work will not take the form of large meetings, but smaller targeted meetings with stakeholders with specific expertise. Additionally, members of the Board have been asked to submit three “Grand Challenges” for the work. If you would like further information please contact Laura.

Last week the Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt and Chinese Science and Technology Minister Wang Zhigang signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish the new UK-China Research and Innovation Collaboration to tackle Antimicrobial Resistance. This is the first stage of the UK’s commitment to establish a new Global AMR Innovation Fund. The UK will be providing up to £10m between 2018 and 2020 towards joint projects led by UK and Chinese researchers, academics and businesses on the basis of match-funding from the Chinese government and from businesses.

The scope and research priorities for this collaboration will be determined jointly by experts appointed by the UK and China in early 2017, with the call for proposals formally launched by Q2 of 2017. This process will be led by representatives from the Expert Advisory Board recently appointed by Dame Sally Davies. It’s great to see progress on this issue and I look forward to hearing more as it develops.

The BIA has been focused on the talent agenda for a number of years, as a central pillar to establishing the UK as the third global biotech cluster. Throughout its recent inquiries, the Science and Technology Committee has repeatedly received evidence that the UK is facing STEM skill shortages and has therefore launched an inquiry on closing the STEM skills gap. The Committee is seeking written evidence on measures that organisations, businesses, schools, colleges and individuals have taken to close the STEM skills gap. These could include, but are not limited to, apprenticeships, vocational courses, mentoring, teacher placements in industry and establishing links between business and schools/colleges. More information is available here.

A reminder that if you’re interested in attending our upcoming Gala Dinner in January, spaces are filling up fast so do book your spot soon – details here.

We’re in Parliament this afternoon for the APPG for Life Sciences annual reception, where our members will be exhibiting their innovative products to MPs and peers. More on that in next week’s update.



Earlier this week we announced Alzheimer’s Research UK as our charity partner for 2017. Alzheimer’s Research UK is the UK’s leading research charity aiming to defeat dementia, powering world-class studies that increase the chance of beating dementia sooner.

Dementia is not just an inevitable part of ageing. It’s caused by diseases that we fight through research. Watch the video to find out more and #sharetheorange

Our partnership will work together to raise the profile of research and development for dementia in the UK and help to raise money for the charity at the BIA’s annual Gala Dinner in January.

Do you have a video you would like the sector to see? Contact us.

rachel-connor-jdrfAs the year draws to a close, today we reflect on our charity partnership for 2016 with a guest blog from Rachel Connor, Director of Research Partnerships at JDRF in the UK. It’s been a fantastic year of collaboration, raising awareness of type one diabetes and the important role of UK bioscience in ongoing research – read on for some of the highlights.

For JDRF and type 1 diabetes research the past twelve months have been marked by progress and excitement at what the future holds. We are delighted we could share this success with the BIA, as its 2016 Charity of the Year.

Over the past year the BIA has joined JDRF in Parliament, raised a significant sum at the annual Gala Dinner and celebrated new developments in vital research to cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes and its complications. 2016 marks thirty years since JDRF was founded in the UK and it was fantastic to be joined by the BIA in marking three decades of research progress, and in looking to the future, where we are confident we will find the cure for type 1 diabetes. Partnerships where JDRF can join forces with organisations such as the BIA are a vital aspect of this.

JDRF 30th Anniversary Dinner, Guildhall, London. Byline John Nguyen/JNVisuals 27/10/2016

BIA CEO Steve Bates talks to the Duchess of Cornwall at the JDRF 30th Anniversary Dinner

In January, our team were lucky enough to attend the BIA annual gala dinner at the Natural History Museum, joining 600 life science professionals, and what a terrific night it was. The evening raised a fantastic £30,000 for JDRF. Much of this was raised from a silent auction that followed a touching speech from our supporter Simon Vinnicombe, whose young son lives with type 1 diabetes.

Simon spoke passionately about what the cure for type 1 diabetes would mean for his and so many other families in the UK. Simon’s description of the day-to-day struggles of caring for a young child with type 1 diabetes was deeply moving. And sadly his is a story shared by so many others. But this is why his speech was a vital reminder of the importance of supporting type 1 diabetes research.

Simon Vinnicombe addressing the BIA Gala Dinner

Simon Vinnicombe addressing the BIA Gala Dinner

In April we were delighted to be joined by the BIA at our #Type1Catalyst event in the Houses of Parliament. This event saw 100 JDRF supporters – including young children from across the UK – join key figures in bioscience and research to meet with over 30 MPs, including the then-Home Secretary Theresa May, who lives with type 1 diabetes. The event saw the release of a report, titled Type 1 Research Today, which outlines the current landscape of type 1 diabetes research in the UK. This report presents a positive picture of UK government and charitable research funding available for developing insights into this condition and celebrated the recent acceleration of ground-breaking research.

The Type 1 Research Today report also highlighted that institutions and funders can maximise value through greater communication and partnership, calling on the UK funding ‘ecosystem’ to be protected and enhanced. Although we were unable to capture and reflect the scale of industry investment in to this research effort, we are absolutely clear that the life science industry is a vital partner in this research ecosystem.

This is one reason we were so pleased to be a part of the BIA Celebrating UK Bioscience campaign, showcasing research and collaborations taking place across the sector and helping to raise awareness of these essential aspects in biotechnology.

In July we shared the exciting news that JDRF was to partner with BIA member and Cambridge-based biopharmaceutical firm Arecor Ltd on a project which will see a focus on perfecting a concentrated form of insulin. This would mean that a smaller vial is needed to hold the liquid in an insulin pump, allowing the whole pump to miniaturise. Miniaturising devices such as insulin pumps will make them less intrusive, heavy and cumbersome, breaking down barriers to their use.


The Arecor partnership was included as a case study in the Celebrating UK Bioscience campaign and JDRF joined Dr Jan Jezek, the Chief Scientific Officer at Arecor in presenting, via a video, the complex science in an accessible way. Simon Vinnicombe told his story as a poignant reminder of why such research is so important and valued on a human level.

We are honoured and grateful to have enjoyed twelve fruitful months as the BIA’s Charity of the Year. We now look forward to seeing further progress over the coming years, and hope to continue working with the many BIA members we have met through the year to the benefit of people with type 1.

Thank you for your partnership, your generosity and your attention in supporting JDRF to raise funds and awareness throughout this landmark year.

You can read about JDRF’s experience at our annual Parliament Day here.

For more information on JDRF’s partnership with BIA member Arecor, watch the video here or download the infographic here.

Earlier this week we announced Alzheimer’s Research UK as BIA charity partner for 2017 – find out more here.

Today we announced that we will be partnering with Alzheimer’s Research UK as our charity of the year in 2017. The BIA has worked with the charity this year on its Celebrating UK Bioscience campaign that looked at how the Dementia Discovery Fund, launched in 2015 by Alzheimer’s Research UK, the Department of Health and global pharmaceutical companies, supported BIA member Gen2 Neuroscience in its work to tackle dementia. Find out more below.

Dementia is a global health challenge, expected to affect more than 132 million people worldwide by 2050, and the UK is leading the way in tackling the challenge.dementia-time

The Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF) was created by the UK Department of Health, Alzheimer’s Research UK, alongside major global pharmaceutical companies Biogen, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, Pfizer and Takeda who have invested $100 million into a fund to support the discovery and development of novel dementia treatments.

The fund is managed by SV Life Sciences, who are working to identify and support the development of novel therapeutic approaches. A world-class Scientific Advisory Board, with representatives from the DDF’s strategic investors and world-leading international academics has been set up to share expertise, expand the DDF’s collaborative networks and advise the investment team.

Current treatments for dementia only help to ease the symptoms of the condition for a limited time but do not address the underlying cause. The aim of the fund is to boost innovation in research and development to deliver new drug approaches for dementia by 2025 to diagnose and intervene early to modify the course of disease while improving symptoms, which will lay the foundations for effective therapies.

The DDF is working collaboratively with universities, academic institutes and the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry internationally to identify novel dementia research projects and nurture these through the pre-clinical phase, enabling further development in clinical trials.

Cambridge based Gen2 is the first UK investment by DDF: Gen2 is a seed company engaged in the discovery and development of novel treatments for dementia targeting abnormal forms of the essential extra cellular protein tau.


Watch the BIA video which features Dr Matt Norton, Director of Policy and Strategy, Alzheimer’s Research UK, Kate Bingham, Managing Partner SV Life Sciences (Dementia Discovery Fund), Dr Rick Livesey, CEO Gen2 Neuroscience and Joy Watson, dementia patient and Alzheimer’s Research UK supporter.


Last week the UK Minister for intellectual property, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, told her European counterparts that the UK will ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement.

Being able to protect intellectual property is vital for life science companies and is often the key value in emerging bioscience companies. The BIA supported the UK’s involvement in establishing the UPC but the question of whether to ratify following the Brexit vote was always a difficult one to balance with the complexities of what would happen should the UK have to withdraw once it leaves the EU. So while the desire to see rapid entry into force of the new system is understandable, it is now imperative that the Government works swiftly with the other signatories to the Agreement to ensure the UK can remain part of the UPC after it leaves the EU and avoid these complexities arising. If this isn’t achieved, appropriate transitional provisions will be essential to address Unitary Patents covering the UK and ongoing litigation covering the UK.

It’s important to note that with or without the UPC, British companies can continue to protect their IP in UK courts and benefit from our world-class legal services. Ratification of the UPC Agreement doesn’t change UK law but does give British companies the option to protect their IP with one patent across 25 countries. Read the IPO announcement here and the full BIA statement here.

As we enter December, I’m pleased to say that the BIA will be joining the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) to support and engage in the excellent work they do. The BIA share CaSE’s ambitions for increased public investment in science and innovation, better education and training, and greater use of evidence in policy making. These issues are essential to ensuring the UK continues to be a world-leader in the life sciences. Read more about the work they do on the website.

On Tuesday the BIA hosted a breakfast forum with N+1 Singer to update investors on the latest biotech public market figures, the Government’s industrial strategy and the BIA’s policy and advocacy activity. It was fantastic to see a number of new faces in the room as the BIA continues to develop new relationships with specialist and non-specialist City investors to raise awareness of our sector.

Last week I was pleased to Chair a BIA roundtable in the House of Lords focusing on access for patients to ultra orphan medicines, in light of the publication of a consultation by NHS England and NICE that seeks to attach a QALY to these medicines. BIA will be submitting a response to the consultation and I would welcome members’ views – please contact Laura.

Many of our BIA advisory committees meet this week for the final round of meetings in 2016. The BIA’s eight advisory committees are crucial mechanisms for highlighting the most relevant issues facing bioscience companies. If you’re interested in getting involved, our third Committee Summit will take place on 24 February 2017 where the eight committees will meet on the same day and provide an update on their activity this year and key issues and focus for 2017. We welcome existing committee members to register their attendance and invite the wider BIA community to attend and join a committee meeting – more details here.

The Department for International Trade are country partners for the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2017 and will be focusing on Life Sciences/Pharmaceuticals this year. The event we were informed last week is in India on 9-12 January (clashing with JP Morgan and Biotech Showcase in San Francisco). The Summit will offer business and networking opportunities with the pharmaceutical companies in India especially Gujarat (considered to be the manufacturing hub for pharmaceuticals in India) and Mumbai. If you’re interested in being part of the delegation, please contact Dr Edna Dsouza, Senior Sector Manager, Healthcare for further information or visit the website. The deadline for registration is 15 December.



Our Friday video this week is taken from our recent ‘Celebrating UK Bioscience’ campaign.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a fatal muscle-wasting condition, caused by the lack of a protein called dystrophin. Summit Therapeutics, a biotechnology company based in Oxfordshire is developing a potential treatment approach, known as utrophin modulation, to slow or stop disease progression.

Watch the video to hear from Summit Therapeutics, charity Muscular Dystrophy UK and Charmaine Twine, ambassador for MDUK whose two sons Josh and Ethan have DMD.

Learn more about the ‘Celebrating UK Bioscience’ campaign here.

Do you have a video you would like the sector to see? Contact us.