Guests gather at The Brewery for BIA’s Annual Gala Dinner – click on the image to view photos from the evening

Eyes have rarely strayed from the White House since the inauguration of Donald Trump on 20 January. On Tuesday it was the turn of big pharma as several executives travelled to Washington for a meeting with the new President, following his critical first public comments on the sector made at a press conference earlier in January. Speaking before the meeting on Tuesday, the President spoke of streamlining and accelerating the drug approval process in the US – he’s yet to announce his choice for FDA commissioner. He also re-emphasised earlier comments related to drug pricing and anchoring more manufacturing jobs in the country. As ever, we’ll be keeping a watching brief for sector developments under the new administration and will keep you updated.

Looking to the UK, the BIA continues to work closely with members and stakeholders to identify the threats and opportunities for biotech post-Brexit and to represent the sector. We are producing a series of BIA Brexit Briefing webinars to provide monthly updates to both our UK and International audiences. These will cover Government policy, progress of the working groups and the effects on life science companies, with regards to innovation, financing, regulation and people. A popular topic, this Friday’s webinar is already fully booked. However if you didn’t manage to register, a recording will be made available following the webinar. Dates for upcoming editions in March, April and May can be found on the website.

Brexit was one topic off the table for Sir Andrew Whitty as he gave the keynote speech at Scotland’s Life Sciences Dinner and Annual Awards on Thursday, instead focusing on collaboration and connectivity across the healthcare industry. It was fantastic to be at the event, celebrating the growth of the industry in Scotland and the launch of the new Life Sciences Strategy for Scotland – 2025 vision. The Scottish life science industry is a key pillar in our UK ecosystem, employing 37,000 people across 700 organisations. Congratulations to all the night’s award winners.

A number of you joined us the following afternoon for our BIA networking lunch at BioCity Scotland, where Andrew Henderson of Scottish Enterprise and BIA member Ingenza discussed the Biomedical Catalyst. We also heard an update from Sinclair Dunlop, Epidarex, on recent investments in the sector. If you’re based near Cambridge, we’ll be at Babraham for another of our networking lunches this Thursday – more details here.

Science minister Jo Johnson has announced that Prof Sir Mark Walport will be Chief Executive Designate of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). UKRI will, subject to legislation currently in Parliament, incorporate the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and the research funding and knowledge exchange parts of HEFCE. Its anticipated that UKRI will be formed in April 2018. You can read the letter from Sir Mark Walport to partner organisations here.

Ending this week’s update with a happy birthday to Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, which turns five this month. The campus, opened in February 2012, now has 49 tenants which have raised more than £200m in funding over the five years – a fantastic achievement for the companies involved, the SBC and also a great boost for the wider sector. Here’s to many more years of growth and success.