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.