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It was a busy week for UK biotech last week, with lots of great news from the sector.

The third annual Future of Healthcare Investor Forum got underway on Thursday morning, with Lord Prior opening London Stock Exchange trading with Xavier Rolet, CEO LSEG. It was fantastic to be back at the LSE for a third year, showcasing the vibrant portfolio of life science companies that exist across the UK. LSE figures released on the day showed the UK life science sector continues its growth trajectory (covered in the Telegraph here). Over 115 life science companies are currently listed on the LSE, with a combined market capitalisation nearing £400 billion – up £40 billion since the end of 2015.

The UK-listed healthcare sector continues to be a source of outperformance for investors. Over three years the FTSE Healthcare AIM and FTSE Healthcare All Share Indexes have outperformed the FTSE All Share Index to end 2016 +48% and +16% respectively, compared to +7% for the FTSE All Share Index. Earlier this month the LSE announced that AIM, the market for smaller growth companies, has helped companies from the UK and around the world to raise more than £100 billion. A number of the top performers on AIM are healthcare companies and it’s fantastic to see it underlining its status as the world’s leading growth market.

The UK’s stellar science base was highlighted in a number of presentations throughout the morning event, including the closing keynote from Trafford Clarke, Managing Director, Lilly Research Centre when outlining why Lilly continues to choose the UK as a base for its R&D. This morning, Novo Nordisk’s Executive Vice-President and Chief Science Officer, Mads Thomsen, cited the UK’s academic excellence as a primary reason for the company’s new £115 million investment in a new science research centre in Oxford. A further vote of confidence in our sector and great news for UK science and innovation.

In association with the conference, BIA produced a document highlighting the investment opportunity in UK life sciences – including new figures from EvaluatePharma, which once again demonstrate that the UK has the largest therapeutic pipeline in Europe, developing over 800 product candidates in 2016. You can download the document by clicking on the following hyperlink: The UK Life Science Industry and the Public Markets, 2016/17.

We continued the focus on biotech in the City with our afternoon event, an audience with the authors of Science, the State and the City, Geoffrey Owen and Michael Hopkins. Interviewed by Scrip’s Suki Virji, there was some great discussion around Industrial Strategy and the UK’s performance in biotech over the years. Many thanks to Osbourne Clarke for hosting.

Topping off a busy Thursday, over 700 life science professionals joined us at The Brewery for the 2017 Gala Dinner. A change of venue for this year whilst the whale is installed at the Natural History Museum, we’re keen to hear your feedback if you were there. As always, this was a great evening celebrating the sector, with speeches from Lord Prior, following his opening of the markets in the morning, and also a special thank you to Alzheimer’s Research UK ambassador Shaheen Larrieux who gave a moving speech about her experience with dementia and why the work of the charity is so important.

We were also delighted to announce Kate Bingham as this year’s recipient of the BIA Lifetime Achievement Award. As BIA Chair, Jane Osbourn, highlighted on the evening, Kate has made an enormous contribution to the UK biotech sector during her career; through her work at SV Life Sciences, to her active role in setting up the Dementia Discovery Fund. In addition to all of this, she is leading the way in championing diversity for the sector across the globe. A worthy recipient and many congratulations.

Congratulations are also due to the many BIA members who received funding as part of the Biomedical Catalyst 2016 awards, announced by Innovate UK and the MRC last Wednesday. UK life science company innovation is key to tackling key healthcare challenges we all face. I’m delighted to see so many of our members receive funding as part of this latest competition. The consistent campaigning of the BIA and our members has ensured that this key source of early-stage funding will continue to support the development of new life-changing medical treatments, diagnostics and devices, and underpin economic growth for the future.

The campaign is highlighted in our latest quarterly policy and regulatory affairs update, published last Wednesday. With the EU referendum, a new UK Government, and the US general election, 2016 was busy but never dull for the BIA. This edition provides an update on the BIA’s influencing activity in the final quarter of the year, including continuing work on Brexit and the emerging Industrial Strategy, an action plan to anchor advanced therapy manufacturing in the UK, and a number of Parliamentary events. You can download the report here or read an overview of some of the key topics on the blog. I’d recommend taking a look – it’s a great summary of our efforts representing your views on some of the most important issues for the sector.

We’ve had a great end to January, let’s keep the momentum going.

Best

Steve