As you may know, Sir John Bell, as the UK Government’s Life Sciences Champion, is leading a life science sector response to the UK government’s industrial strategy. I am delighted to be representing our sector on the steering committee.

The BIA wants to make sure local senior commercial innovators across the country have a powerful voice at the table to complement both academic and big pharma input. As part of that we are running an online survey to get the views from as many of our senior members and non-members as possible – especially those in CEO, CBO, CSO and CMO, Investor and Board Member roles.

This work compliments, but is separate to, the meetings that the KTN are doing at this time on the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund scoping work. It also compliments the workshops we are running and the 1 on 1 interviews that some of you have given – many thanks for your contributions in this capacity.

This survey focuses on:

  • the performance of the UK in translational research from bench to bedside, and what is working well/how it can be improved
  • your experience with and satisfaction in various government support structures
  • your views on some proposed Innovate UK initiatives, especially the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund
  • new ideas that, if scaled up, will drive translation.

The survey is open until next Monday 20th February 2017 and I’d be grateful if you could spare 15 minutes of your time to complete it.

Following our successful networking lunch at BioCity Scotland earlier this month, it was good last week to be in the brand new Cambridge building on the Babraham Research Campus for the latest BIA networking lunch. I found it really useful to get member’s perspectives on the BIA’s work on Brexit and Industrial Strategy as well as to get the latest from Harriet Fear, CEO of our United Life Science partner One Nucleus. BIA member Discuva and Innovate UK’s Dr Penny Wilson discussed the Biomedical Catalyst – with Discuva having recently been awarded funding as part of the Biomedical Catalyst 2016. It’s good to see there are several schemes open right now from Innovate of relevance to BIA members – more details of which can be found on our website.

Given member interest in Brexit we are now holding monthly update webinars – the first of which was last Friday, providing an update on government policy, progress of working groups, and how these will potentially affect companies in life sciences. Following a huge amount of interest, the webinar will be available to watch online later this week. You can sign up for our next one, taking place on 10 March, here.

Also last week, we joined forces with 11 other organisations from the private, public and charity life sciences sector to host an event in Parliament to give MPs and peers the opportunity to speak to patients, researchers and industry experts about the opportunities and challenges of Brexit. You can download the event briefing from our website.

It was great to catch up with the synthetic biology community at last Wednesday’s Royal Society conference, “Synthetic Biology: Does industry get it?” – a provocative title and fantastic line up of speakers sparking some great discussion amongst the panels and the audience. The synbio scene has exploded over the past decade as exponential improvements in technology have led to dramatic falls in DNA sequencing and DNA synthesis costs. The huge variety and promise of the sector was evident from the range of topics discussed, from recreating the fragrance of an extinct flower to the powerful application of synbio in manufacturing technologies. BIA members represented on the panels included Oxitec, Pfizer, and GlaxoSmithKline. It was great to here other perspectives from Shell and Unilever. Many thanks to the Royal Society for hosting and to my co-organisers Professor Ben Davis, University of Oxford and Professor Paul Freemont, Imperial College London – you can catch up with the day’s discussions on Twitter using #RSsynbio.

Please note that our joint webinar with Alzheimer’s Research UK has moved to 1 March. Alzheimer’s Research UK is the leading charitable funder of dementia research in the UK. Along with BIA members active in this space, they will provide an overview of the current dementia research and development landscape and funding opportunities available to support the development of dementia treatments. More info here.

Our colleagues at the European Investment Bank are currently undertaking a study investigating the availability of funding for life science SMEs in Europe. The results of this study will help shape both national and European policy actions in support of life science R&D. To ensure the study captures the views of as many UK life science SMEs as possible they have created a 5 minute survey assessing your perspective on the life science funding environment. Do take a look and have your say.