swiss trip

BIA ran its first Discovery Trip last week – with Switzerland chosen as the destination due to its importance as a base for life sciences, and its status outside of the EU.  We were looking to learn and be inspired by initiatives and policies that enable the country to remain at the forefront of biotech research and at the top of the list in terms of worldwide innovation rankings.  We were fortunate to work with Tekiu in terms of organisation and we attracted delegates from the Office of Life Sciences, MHRA, and a range of our member organisations.

Meeting with representatives from Zurich, Western Switzerland, Zug and Basel gave us an insight into the differences between the different regions and a view into the highly competitive canton system.  Visits to the Commission for Technology and Innovation and ETH (Zurich University) provided an insight into the robust innovation support offered to entrepreneurs and scientists, and new schemes such as Baselaunch helping to get spinouts off the ground.  Meeting the Swiss regulators Swissmedic enabled us to probe further into the challenges and opportunities of being a regulator working with, but outside of the EMA.

It was great to be able to hear the Neurimmune story first hand, and to visit their collaborative partners – BIA members Biogen – to learn more about their operations in Switzerland and their CHF 1 billion investment in biologics manufacturing in Solothurn, Switzerland.  Great also to visit more BIA members – Shire and also Novartis, who welcomed the delegation to their fascinating campus for the afternoon on the last day.  A fitting end to a thought-provoking, productive and enjoyable trip for the delegation.

Last week, the BIA also gathered with the vibrant global synthetic biology community at Imperial College for the fifth SynBioBeta London Conference.  The UK’s scientific excellence and strong start-up base puts us far ahead of our European neighbours in the field. The conference included a mix of panel discussions, business presentations, and networking opportunities. As always, it is inspiring to hear about the latest innovations being developed in our exciting industry. You can read our summary of the highlights of the conference here.

This week we’ll be submitting our response to the Government’s Industrial Strategy green paper, which we have welcomed as a great opportunity for our sector to work with Government to build the third global biotech cluster. Thank you to everyone who came to our member workshops, and took part in online surveys and interviews to inform our submission. Keep a look out on our website for the final document later this week.