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As well as the article 50 bill starting its passage through the House of Lords, the government has today responded to the Commons Science and Technology Committee’s report on the implications for science and research of leaving the EU. In its statement, the Government has reaffirmed its commitment to science and innovation and “making the UK the global go-to nation for scientists, innovators and investors in technology”. In particular, we welcome the acknowledgment that maintaining communication with stakeholders throughout the Brexit negotiations will be key, and we look forward to continuing the close working relationship we have with the Government and helping them to maintain confidence within the global life sciences community.

I had the opportunity to talk Brexit with Lord O’Shaughnessy, who recently assumed life science responsibilities in the Department of Health, in a meeting last week. We also discussed, amongst other things, the Industrial Strategy – a conversation I was able to continue this morning at a Life Sciences Industrial Strategy Stakeholder Reception with many BIA members in the impressive but chilly Durbar Court of the Foreign Office (see picture). For all of us attending (and thanks to those Members able to join at short notice) it was great to hear John Bell endorsing our goal of growing life science businesses to scale from the UK as a “grand challenge” and to discuss in detail ideas around financing and investment in life science, policies for the science base and regions and future of regulation. An unannounced appearance at the end of the event by NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens was a positive sign of NHS England engagement with the process. We continue to advocate on this crucial area and the government hope to publish a new strategy by the end of next month.

Last week the US National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine published a report on human genome editing, “Human Genome Editing: Science, Ethics, and Governance”. The report outlines several criteria that should be met before allowing germline editing clinical trials to go forward. We welcomed the publication of this cautious but reasoned report and the continued international focus on enabling this pioneering area of biotechnology. With its renowned science base, and a world-leading regulator in the HFEA, the UK is well placed to lead in this innovative genetic revolution.

We are also blessed with expert institutions like the Royal Society, the Wellcome Trust, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics and numerous medical research charities, able to facilitate and contribute to the vital ongoing global public debate needed about the science, ethics and governance of human genome editing. The BIA hopes that a consensus position is reached between UK scientists, society and policy-makers that will enable businesses that may emerge from this frontier science to want to establish themselves in the UK as a supportive and properly regulated environment.

On Thursday we were at the BioHub Birmingham for their BioBrum event. It’s always useful to attend regional hub meetings, such as BioBrum, which provide valuable opportunities to engage with companies in the area. BIA COO Nick Gardiner spoke to delegates about our talent directory and growing desire to understand the education and vocational training environment and talent development available across the industry. Talent remains a key area of focus for the BIA and something our People Advisory Committee will continue to address, including at Friday’s Committee Summit.

Later that evening, back in London, the Science Industry Partnership (SIP) launched their Strategic Skills Action Plan. This follows their Skills Strategy launched in 2016. The Action Plan was set out to deliver the key skills activities needed to achieve the sectors’ skills ambition – including a requirement for  up to 260,000 skilled people out to 2025 – many in new technology-based scientific occupations. This projection includes up to 142,000 professional level graduate-entry jobs and up to 73,000 technical level apprenticeship-entry roles.

It is vital that there is a sustainable future pipeline of knowledge and skills to ensure that the sector can continue to grow and succeed. The Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP) Advanced Therapies Manufacturing Taskforce (ATMT) worked in close partnership with SIP to align the ATMT action plan launched in November 2016 and the SIP Strategic Action Plan to support this shared goal.

If you’re interested in the skills agenda, read more about the work of our Manufacturing Advisory Committee and their bioproduction leadership initiative that launched in January. In the run up to our annual Committee Summit on Friday, we’ve also published a round-up of the focus of our Intellectual Property Advisory Committee, which has been following the increasing divergence between US patent law and that of other major jurisdictions around the world.

Looking forward to seeing you at the Summit on Friday




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.




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.



--- Ben Phillips Photography +447785721740

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.




As expected, earlier today we saw the launch of Government’s Industrial Strategy green paper and consultation – read the press release here and view the consultation page and green paper from the hyperlinks.

It’s great to see life sciences at the heart of the government consultation on Industrial Strategy. They are right to focus on investing in science research and innovation, developing skills, supporting business to start and grow, and cultivating world leading UK sectors like biotech.

The BIA is already engaged in the government’s Industrial Strategy through our work with the life sciences group chaired by Sir John Bell, and creating a sector deal is a real opportunity to achieve the BIA’s vision for the UK to become the third biggest global biotech cluster by 2025.

With the right new policies we may even be more ambitious in 2017 if we have all the elements in place to be world beaters here. The Industrial Strategy should capitalise on the UK’s strong fundamentals that underpin our vision and help attract investment to the UK, stimulate the growth of our domestic industry, deliver effective and efficient healthcare for future generations, seize the opportunity of the UK’s lead in efficient and effective regulation of new technologies and demonstrate that the UK is open for business. We look forward to engaging.

This week we’re gearing up for a busy week with our flagship Gala Dinner on Thursday, following a full day of events in the City. The Future of Healthcare Investor Forum will be taking place at the London Stock Exchange for the third consecutive year, followed by our audience with the authors of Science, the State and the City, a book about the history of Britain’s industrial strategy for biotechnology. At the Gala Dinner, we’ll be announcing this year’s recipient of our Lifetime Achievement Award and raising money for our Charity of the Year, Alzheimer’s Research UK – updates to follow in next week’s blog.

Last week, the BIA’s Manufacturing Advisory Committee (MAC) launched their Skills Networking Tour at Fujifilm in Billingham. The development of managers in the biopharmaceutical and cell and gene therapy industries is an important part of the training landscape to deliver senior leaders of the future. The group of 11 (one representative from each of the participating companies) will attend a series of site tours to offer an overview of the work of other companies in the sector by seeing them in action. Each site visit is preceded by a pre-dinner the night before, to encourage the development of a network of peers.

We were delighted to welcome 10 of the 11 company representatives involved in the tour to the Fujifilm site (pictured) on Wednesday. The group had a detailed tour of two manufacturing facilities and parts of R&D. There were presentations on the site and company as well as the new potent molecule facility, some of the improvements undertaken and a career overview from one of the site leadership team. The participants were positive about the day and pleased to be part of the programme. We look forward to continuing to develop the programme and are pleased with the response from BIA members to be a part of the initiative.

Also on manufacturing, the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP), supported by the BIA, ABPI and KTN, would like to invite you to attend its inaugural Medicines Manufacturing in the UK event at AstraZeneca’s manufacturing plant in Macclesfield. The event will bring together representatives from across the medicines manufacturing community to talk about the challenges the sector faces and how to ensure that medicines manufacturing thrives in the future. If you’re interested in attending, click here to register.

On Thursday we were in Westminster for our roundtable on the Accelerated Access Review (AAR) chaired by Mike Farrar, with Lord Prior and representatives from across the Department of Health, the NHS, MHRA, charity and industry. It was a great opportunity to explore some of the content from the Review’s final report, with a lively discussion across the table. We’ll be publishing a report from the discussions in due course.

Last week we published our round-up of JP Morgan week on the blog – you can read it here. The next big international event will be BIO in June, with former UK Prime Minister David Cameron lined up to provide the keynote speech. As an international biotech association, BIA members are entitled to a discount on attendance at the conference. Sign up here to receive your code which should be used when you register for the conference.

A reminder that the Biomedical Catalyst 2017 Round 1 opens today – you can apply here and also register for the briefing event webinar on 6 Feb.

Looking forward to seeing you on Thursday at our City events and the Gala Dinner – don’t forget we’re at The Brewery!



Biotech Showcase panel

Biotech Showcase panel

Last week the BIA headed to a wet and windy San Francisco for Biotech Showcase and JP Morgan, joined by members and partner organisations flying the flag of UK life science excellence on the global stage. The week, for a largely US community, was overshadowed by President Elect Trump’s first public utterances on our sector at his press conference on Wednesday. They are worth reading in full:

“I think a lot of industries are going to be coming back (to the USA). We have to get our drug industry coming back. Our drug industry has been disastrous. They’re leaving left and right. They supply our drugs, but they don’t make them here. To a large extent. And the other thing we have to do is create a new bidding procedures for the drug industry because they’re getting away with murder.

Pharma has a lot of lobbies, a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power. And there’s very little bidding on drugs. We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world, and yet we don’t bid properly. And were going to start bidding and were going to save billions of dollars over a period of time.”

So, as I said in my blog on his victory in November, whilst the market has priced in Hilary Clinton’s defeat (“known unknown’s”) it rested on “unknown unknown’s” with Trump. It now seems as if his intent is to encourage as much of the value in the pharma industry as possible to base itself in the USA via protectionist policies, that may include tax reform, and at the same time, has implied that he wants the US public healthcare system to negotiate drug prices. Additionally Robert F Kennedy Jr. has been asked to lead a new commission on ‘vaccine safety and scientific integrity’ which has been seen by many in the media as a process that will marry vaccine sceptics from both sides of the US political spectrum. Trump tweeted about vaccines in 2014: “Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn’t feel good and changes – AUTISM. Many such cases!”  It remains to be seen whether and how all this can be delivered in the months and years ahead, but it’s an important staging post of intent we need to be aware of.

What is clear is that the new administration is going to be a significant break from the last and will have a material impact on market sentiment, as well as public discourse on science and health throughout 2017. So you’ll see why I’m looking forward to spending some time this week analysing the Presidential Inauguration for sector impact, as well as Theresa May’s much heralded speech on Brexit tomorrow.

Thank you to everyone who came to our events out in San Francisco. It was great to see such a strong showing from the UK from this year. Keep an eye out for our blog tomorrow rounding up the highlights. At the conference itself, we teamed up with the Department for International Trade to hold a packed Brexit panel at the conference, highlighting that the fundamental strengths of UK life sciences remain, and hosted an enjoyable UK biotech networking reception on Monday evening. Given Trump, Brexit wasn’t top of the agenda at Biotech Showcase, but interest was still high as delegates crowded into the BIA’s panel workshop to hear how the UK bioscience sector is addressing the threats and opportunities of the momentous decision.

Lord Prior, who joined us as part of the panel at Biotech Showcase, has now had his responsibilities confirmed following the mini reshuffle I mentioned last week – they include life sciences, industrial strategy and the single market. You can view them now online here.

In other news, I’m delighted to let you know that the latest round of the new Biomedical Catalyst funding is up online, ready to launch next Monday, 23 January. £10 million is available for 1 year Feasibility studies awards (to explore and evaluate the commercial potential of innovative scientific ideas) and 2 year Primer awards (previously Early/Late Stage awards, to conduct a technical evaluation of your idea through to proof of concept in a model system). There will be a briefing event webinar for the competition on 6 February – register to attend here.

It’s extremely satisfying to see the competition launching after years of lobbying efforts by the BIA and our members. You can find out more about the road to refunding the BMC in our infographic here.

On Friday we responded to a NICE and NHS England consultation on changes to the arrangements for evaluating and funding medicines. The proposed changes could stop the flow of new medicines reaching patients with very rare and complex diseases. This follows a recent roundtable held by BIA members to discuss the issues raised by the consultation that was attended by MPs, Peers and patient groups with an interest in medicines for rare diseases.

Rather than unlocking innovation in the NHS and delivering equity and access to all patients the proposed changes in the consultation will delay access to medicines and undermine confidence in the system for both patients and industry. It is vital that the industry collaborates with NICE and NHS England to ensure that ground breaking treatments can be made available to patients quickly and efficiently, wherever they live in the UK. You can read our press release on the submission here or download the consultation response in full here.

BIA also submitted a response to the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee inquiry on closing the STEM skills gap last Friday. Our submission specifically addresses the current skills deficit identified for manufacturing of Advanced Therapies, following in-depth work undertaken as part of the Advanced Therapies Manufacturing Taskforce. Due to its strong research base, the UK is well-placed to secure a world-leading position in the Advanced Therapies manufacturing market, which is expected to grow to be worth between $14-21 billion globally per year by 2025. In order to ensure a sustainable supply of knowledge and skills necessary to fuel the growth of Advanced Therapies manufacturing in the UK, the creation and implementation of an end-to end talent plan for the sector is required. This must support the development of a range of skills from Manufacturing Technicians through to Post-doctoral and Professional levels. You can read our response in full here for more details.

And a final note to draw your attention to a new blog from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) providing expert insight into the latest regulatory thinking and all aspects of medicines regulation. You can follow the MedRegs blog here.




We’re out in San Francisco this week, showcasing the best of UK biotech at JP Morgan and the Biotech Showcase. As always, it promises to be a hectic schedule of meetings and events – our webinar from last Thursday picks out the highlights and you can re-watch it here. This morning at the Biotech Showcase I’ll be chairing a panel discussion on the real threats and opportunities of Brexit and I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at tonight’s UK networking event. If you didn’t manage to secure a spot for tonight, I’m afraid the event is now fully booked.

On Tuesday morning a number of BIA members will be taking part in a workshop at Biotech Showcase on “Maximizing corporate value creation – management of cash in biopharma”, from 11 to 12pm in the San Francisco Continental Room 8 in the Hilton. Speakers include Neil Murray CEO of Redx Pharma, Linda Summerton CEO of Immodulon, Flic Gabbay Managing Partner at TranScrip Partners and Stephen Parker of Silence Therapeutics.

For those of you remaining in the UK, do keep an eye on Twitter for the latest news using #JPM17 or the BIA Twitter account @BIA_UK. We’ll have a round-up for you next week.

Looking forward to the year ahead, the BIA Events Calendar for 2017 lists the most important dates for your diary – download it here. For January, Thursday 26 is the date to note, with our Gala Dinner taking place at The Brewery. If you’re in town for the dinner, that afternoon we’ll be hosting an audience with the authors of Science, the State and the City, a book about the history of Britain’s industrial strategy for biotechnology. Former Editor of the Financial Times, Sir Geoffrey Owen, and Senior Lecturer in biomedical innovation at the University of Sussex, Dr Michael Hopkins, will discuss the development of the UK’s biotechnology industry over the past 30 years, how it has been supported by industrial strategy, and the opportunities and challenges for further growth. The event will begin at 15.30 and be followed by a wine reception. Please note this event is for biotechnology corporates and investors only – for more details see the website.

As we welcome the new year we’ve also seen a mini reshuffle in government with Lord O’Shaughnessy assuming life science responsibilities in the Department of Health. He was previously David Cameron’s Head of Policy and was made a peer when Cameron left office. I have made contact and look forward to working with him.

Meanwhile Lord Prior has moved to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to replace the IP Minister, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, although his portfolio has not been confirmed yet. We worked closely with Lord Prior on the UK EU Life Sciences Transition Programme and will continue to work with him in his new role. Baroness Neville-Rolfe has moved to the Treasury as Commercial Secretary, where I am sure we will continue to work with her also.

Work continues to progress around industrial strategy. Innovate UK and the Research Councils are beginning to define a first round of challenges to be addressed by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) – first announced by the Prime Minister at the 2016 CBI Annual Conference – and will soon be in a position to seek input from industry and the research base into their development.

To gather input from industry and the research base, the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) is organising a series of short workshops across the UK in the second half of January for innovators and researchers to engage with Innovate UK and the Research Councils and share your thoughts on what the challenges might be. This will be a valuable opportunity for you to help shape some of the key industrial challenges that, if addressed by the ISCF, could help deliver jobs and economic growth across the UK.

Events will be held across the UK and are not specific to any technology or industry sector, looking to attract a wide range of participants and viewpoints. You can register your interest in attending one of the ISCF workshops here. You’ll be notified if you’ve secured a place from Wednesday 11 January.

The ABPI have been working with UK MedTech industry partners, with the support of NHS England, DH and regulation experts, to establish a national process for credentialing. Significant progress has been made toward developing a cross-sector Life Sciences Industry (LSI) Credentialing Register and we are hoping that this will, when completed, receive approval from The Professional Standards Authority. We are keen to ensure that the register is as user-friendly and appropriate as possible in the expectation that our members may need to use it in future.

As part of the development of these standards a consultation has been opened for responses by companies/potential registrants on the proposed standards. Responses to the consultation will be really helpful in the development of this work. Full details of the consultation process can be found on the LSI website. If you have any queries regarding the consultation, please email or call 07749454308 to speak to someone from The Academy for Healthcare Science who are running the consultation process. Responses must be submitted by the 20th January deadline.

In case of interest, ABS-Int are organising a training session on ABS Essentials of complying with the Nagoya Protocol and Regulation EU 511/2014 on 14 February in Leuven, Belgium. It is designed for practitioners looking for practical background information for adapting their way of working to guarantee compliance. More information can be found here. EuropaBio members are entitled to a reduced registration fee.



Happy New Year and many thanks to all of you who have congratulated me on my OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list.   It’s humbling and a privilege to be recognised. The New Year Honours list included a number of people in the life sciences sector. Professor Shankar Balasubramanian, Herchel Smith Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, University of Cambridge and scientific founder of Solexa and Cambridge Epigenetix, and Dr James Smith, lately, Director of Research, Francis Crick Institute, received Knighthoods. Professor Amanda Fisher, Director, Medical Research Council Clinical Sciences Centre, Imperial College London, has become a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Michael Pragnell, Chairman, Cancer Research UK has become a Commander of the Order of the British Empire and Dr Hakim Yadi, chief executive of the Northern Health Science Alliance, has become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire along with Cyril Chantler, UCL Partners, Stephen Inglis of NIBSC and Peter Weissberg, formerly with the British Heart Foundation.  Geneticist Prof Sir Alec Jeffreys was also appointed to the very select group of outstanding achievers who hold the title Companion of Honour.

The Sector leaps back into action next week as many of you will be joining me in at one of the life science industry’s largest conferences of the year, JP Morgan, which brings together thousands of investors and executives from around the world to San Francisco where companies present their latest innovations hoping to find their next partner or investor.  The conference takes place 9-13 January 2017 at the Westin St Francis Hotel, 335 Powell Street.

To prepare you on British interest during the week as usual, BIA will be running a webinar –this  Thursday 5 January, 11-11.45am – providing the latest information on who is attending, what is going on, and how to make the most out of your time in San Francisco during one of the busiest Biotech weeks in the calendar.  Sign up to the webinar by registering on this page.

Biotech Showcase takes place alongside JP Morgan at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square 9-11 January 2017. I will be chairing a panel discussion on the real threats and opportunities of Brexit on Monday 9 January from 11-12pm at the conference.  Panellists will include Lord Prior (UK Department of Health), Eliot Forster (MedCity), Chris Mayo (LSE Group) and Alison Dennis (Fieldfisher LLP).  For further details on Biotech Showcase and the panel, visit the website.

BIA and co-sponsors (MedCity, DIT, LSE, Fieldfisher LLP, London & Partners) will be hosting a UK networking event on the evening of Monday 9 January at the Marines Memorial Club (Heritage Room, 10th Floor), 609 Sutter Street (next to JW Marriott SF Union Square).  Put the date in your diary and we will see you there!

If you haven’t yet registered for Biotech Showcase, please visit the BioPartner site for information on discounts available to ULS members.

We will update you on all of the action from San Francisco in newscast and follow our twitter feed for live updates and pictures from the conference.

At the end of the month we have the BIA Gala Dinner and there are still a limited number of tickets left so please book online as soon as possible if you would like to secure one of the final places for what promises to be an excellent event. A silent auction will run throughout the evening raising funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK who we recently announced as our charity of the year.

In the afternoon before the Gala Dinner, the BIA and Osborne Clarke invite you to join biotechnology companies and investors for an audience with the authors of Science, the State and the City, a book about the history of Britain’s industrial strategy for biotechnology.

The event provides BIA Corporate members and investors a space to work, enjoy some refreshments and network in-between the morning’s Future of Healthcare Investor Forum at the London Stock Exchange and the evening’s BIA Gala Dinner. The venue is a short 5-10 minute walk from both locations.

At 15:30 there will be an audience with the former Editor of the Financial Times, Geoffrey Owen, and Senior Lecturer in biomedical innovation at the University of Sussex, Dr Michael Hopkins, to talk about their book Science, the State and the City and discuss with you the future of Britain’s industrial strategy –  followed by a wine reception. You can find out more about the event on the BIA website.



Merry Christmas from the BIA team!

Merry Christmas from the BIA team!

In a year of election surprises, government reshuffles and pivotal clinical trial results, we approach 2017 as a sector on strong footing and well positioned to navigate the new global landscape.

The resilience and quality of the UK biotech sector is evident in the number of recently announced fundraisings, company launches and wider supportive ecosystem developments, such as the new £1 billion Syncona fund and the final approval of mitochondrial donation from the UK fertility regulator. If you haven’t seen it already, there’s a great piece in today’s Times from Matt Ridley, which outlines the long line of biomedical innovations at which the British excel. Our hard work and swift reaction following the EU Referendum result has ensured that life sciences remain a government priority and we will continue to engage with government going forward as we look to establish the sector as a key pillar in the ongoing industrial strategy work.

As we look to develop a sector-wide approach, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is seeking evidence to help shape a UK bioeconomy strategy. The aim is to produce a strategy which will foster a world leading bioeconomy which is appropriate to the UK’s industrial structure and availability of natural resources. The survey is a series of questions which will help scope out the opportunities, challenges, barriers and enablers of the bioeconomy. Find out more here.

A tumultuous year has resulted in a particularly busy period for the BIA. Our latest Year in Numbers infographic looks at some of the key figures from 2016, including submitting over 20 consultation responses, achieving over 100 media mentions on Brexit and delivering 33 events across the UK. But one of the stand out figures for me this year was the £100 million committed to re-filling the Biomedical Catalyst.

The BIA was instrumental in securing the launch of the Biomedical Catalyst and has made its continuation a key campaign focus since 2013. The consistent campaigning of the BIA and our members has ensured that this key source of early-stage funding for UK bioscience companies will continue to support the development of new life-changing medical treatments, diagnostics and devices, and underpin economic growth for the future. It is a great example of a lobbying success and our new infographic details the campaign timeline, from 2009 up to 2016. Download it here.

In January we’ll be celebrating and showcasing the UK life science sector at one of the busiest weeks of the international biotech year – do join us as part of the UK delegation to JP Morgan 2017 in San Francisco.

There’s lots going on this year, including a UK reception at Marines Memorial Club, Heritage Room, 10th Floor, 609 Sutter Street on Monday 9 January, 8-10pm (please contact Jane Wall to register Biotech Showcase takes place alongside JP Morgan where I’ll be chairing a panel discussion on the real threats and opportunities of Brexit on Monday 9 January from 11-12pm. Panellists will include Lord Prior (UK Department of Health), Eliot Forster (MedCity), Chris Mayo (LSE Group) and Alison Dennis (Fieldfisher LLP). For further details on Biotech Showcase and the panel, visit the website. And finally, in preparation before you fly, BIA will be running our usual webinar on Thursday 5 January, 11-11.45am – providing the latest information on who is attending, what is going on, and how to make the most out of your time in San Francisco during one of the busiest Biotech weeks in the calendar. Sign up to the webinar by registering on this page.

But for now it’s now time for a well-deserved break! The BIA offices will be closed between Christmas and New Year (26 December to 2 January), and will re-open on 3 January.

Many thanks once again for all your input this year, without it we wouldn’t be in the strong position we are.

Merry Christmas



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.