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Last week over 700 life science professionals descended upon The Brewery in London for the 21st Annual BIA Gala Dinner. With speeches from Lord Prior of Brampton, Alzheimer’s Research UK Ambassador Shaheen Larrieux and the presentation of this year’s BIA Lifetime Achievement award to Kate Bingham.

Watch a slideshow of photographs from the evening below, or visit our Flickr page to view the album in full.


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On 12 December, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Life Sciences held its annual Winter Reception to celebrate the vitality of the UK life sciences sector and showcase some of the innovative technologies produced by British companies.

BIA members GE Healthcare, uMotif and Applikon exhibited alongside Roche, Woundcheck, Boston Scientific and Medtronic.

GE Healthcare gave MPs and other guests the opportunity to tour their advanced therapy manufacturing facilities using a virtual-reality headset. Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee, Iain Wright MP, was particularly impressed (pictured).


Applikon brought along their MiniBio bioreactor, which can be used for a range of processes, including screening studies, media optimisation and cell culture. Applikon exhibited on behalf of the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership, which recently published its Advanced Therapies Manufacturing Plan.


uMotif demonstrated their software that use data to provide new insights for health services and all phases of clinical research, including real-world evidence.


The APPG for Life Sciences, is a cross-party group of MPs and peers founded in 2015 by Kit Malthouse MP to raise awareness of the valuable contribution the life sciences sector provides to the health and wealth of the nation. The BIA supports the APPG in collaboration with ABPI, BIVDA and ABHI.


Guests heard from the APPG’s vice-chair, Jo Churchill MP, the former Life Sciences Minister and now Chair of the Prime Minister’s Policy Board, George Freeman MP, and Michael Cumper from the heart patients’ organisation, the Somerville Foundation.


George Freeman MP told the reception “Our world-leading life science sector – which generates over £60 billion and over 220,000 jobs for the UK economy each year, and provides products which the NHS and UK patients rely on every day – is of critical importance to the country.”

View all photos from the event on our Flickr page.

We had a great time in Newcastle for last week’s bioProcessUK conference. Watch the slideshow below for pictures from the event, or visit Flickr to browse the album at your own pace.


On the blog today, we run through some brief highlights from the main sessions at the UK Bioscience Forum on 20 October. View pictures from the conference below in our slideshow, or check out the album at your own pace on Flickr.


Our opening keynote speech from NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens set the scene for the day, as he emphasised the importance and shared public interest in the life science sector. UK bioscience plays a central role in developing the treatments needed for future generations here and around the globe, from investing in and carrying out research and development, to getting drugs from the lab and into patients.

This theme was continued with our first panel of the day, chaired by Aisling Burnand, CEO of the AMRC, which examined the impact of UK bioscience in the field of type one diabetes. BIA member Arecor and our charity of the year JDRF provided some background to their recent collaboration, working to create concentrated insulin. Both partners stressed the importance of a linked approach between the charity and industry sectors, which can provide not only funding, but the validation of patient need, scientific validation and an ecosystem of experts. Delegates also heard first hand about the impact of the sector’s research and development from Sarah Liveing, whose daughter lives with type one. If you’re interested in finding out more, watch our video on the collaboration.

The day continued with our usual slot from BBSRC’s Innovator of the Year, won this year by Professor Tom Brown from the University of Oxford for his for high impact serial entrepreneurship in DNA chemistry and outstanding commitment to innovation.

Elsewhere, during the conference, our panels of experts offered their thoughts and opinions on a range of important sector topics ranging from the importance of effective media relations to access to orphan medicines and, of course, Brexit. It was also fantastic to be able to celebrate the recent Biomedical Catalyst win at our Autumn Reception.

Last week, leading senior level management from bioscience companies across the UK gathered at Down Hall for this year’s BIA UK CEO and Investor Forum. As UK voters headed to the polls, the Forum provided an opportunity for open discussion around the EU Referendum, as well as the current state of fundraising in the sector and the talent agenda. Some of the highlights are detailed below, along with pictures from the day.


Having recently launched our Money, momentum and maturity report into UK biotech financings and deals in 2015/16, the opening panel on Wednesday evening discussed recent funding and investment in the sector. The panel, including Sam Fazeli of Bloomberg Intelligence, Dan Mahony from Polar Capital Partners, Imperial Innovations’ Nigel Pitchford, Saku Saha of Woodford Investment Management and Edwin Elmhirst from EP Vantage, were enthusiastic about the highs seen in venture capital financing in 2015. It was encouraging to hear reassuring comments from each investor when questioned on the potential impact of the imminent EU Referendum, US Presidential election and the turbulent Chinese markets – with our resilient sector expected to continue to succeed despite the challenges. Indeed, this was echoed following the announcement of the EU Referendum result on Friday, with Neil Woodford stating, “In the longer term, it is my view that the trajectory of the UK economy, and more importantly the world economy, will not be influenced significantly by today’s outcome. Consequently, the portfolio strategy will not change.” You can read his initial thoughts on the vote here and watch a video describing his longer term view here.

27281434403_87b25432a7_oThe conference kicked off in earnest on Thursday morning, with an update on the BIA Vision from BIA Chair, Jane Osbourn. Attendees were also treated to a great keynote presentation from Dr Richard Mason, Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, London, who spoke on the critical role of collaboration to the long-term success of biomedical innovation.

As UK voters headed to the polls, BIA CEO Steve Bates and PwC’s Jo Pisani and Jonathan Gillham led the discussion on the potential implications of the EU Referendum for the biotech industry. PwC have produced a booklet that you can download here, and do take a look at the BIA’s response that was issued on the Friday following the result.

Chair of the BIA Finance and Tax Advisory Committee, Colin Hailey, gave an overview of current funding incentives in the UK, including R&D tax credits, the Patent Box and EIS/SEIS reliefs. There were also some interesting discussions around partnering following presentations from Syncona’s Chris Hollowood and Taylor Wessing’s Tim Worden.


There were some fantastic presentations as part of the business development soapbox session, including Biotecnol, BliNK Biomedical, Orphidia, Eagle Genomics and Videregen.

Led by RSA’s Chris Molloy, our afternoon panel session on talent generated much discussion around how to support the next generation of biotech leaders – represented on the panel by Iwan Roberts of Puridify, Jemma Gatliff, CEO of Keregen Therapeutics and Fiona Neilsen of DNAdigest and Repositive. As mentors themselves, Barbara Domayne-Hayman and Chris Thomas gave their views on the important role that mentors can play in the development of talent. Look out for some work from the BIA on this issue later in 2016.


The recent interest in crowdfunding as an alternative source of funding for biotech companies was tackled in our penultimate panel session, with Fran O’Brien, Head Associate at SyndicateRoom. It was also interesting to hear the perspective of Mark Beards, Corporate Development Director at Cell Therapy, which successfully utilised the crowdfunding platform to raise funds in December 2014. Definitely one to watch in 2016 and beyond.

Finally, the Forum drew to a close with a discussion around the UK public markets, chaired by Liz Klein. Panellists James Clark from the London Stock Exchange, Sherry Coutu from the Scale-up Institute and Clare Terlouw from Numis Securities debated the benefits of the London markets and the key ingredients to a successful IPO. James also drew attention to the successful follow on environment currently witnessed on the London Stock Exchange – an essential component for the scaling up of biotech companies into the mid-tier we want to cultivate here in the UK.

Click on the video below to watch a slideshow of pictures from the event, or view on our Flickr page here.


Last Wednesday, the BIA and MHRA were delighted to welcome delegates to our sixth joint regulatory conference on Accelerated Development and Access to Innovative Medicines for Patients at the Royal Society of Medicine in London.

The conference addressed the latest developments to support innovation and optimise pathways and timely access to new medicines, with delegates hearing the very latest thinking from senior experts and leading speakers from the MHRA, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the life science industry, the NHS, NICE, academia, patient organisations and investment firms.

Our stellar line up of speakers opened with an update on the Accelerated Access Review (AAR) from Sir Hugh Taylor, Independent Chair of the AAR, and Professor Sir John Bell, Chair of the review’s Expert Advisory Group. Both expressed their thanks for the level of engagement with the review, which will release its final report following the EU Referendum. As Sir John Bell puts it, we’re in an age of fantastic development in science and the AAR hopes to capitalise on this and ensure that the best innovations are identified early, given adequate support and ultimately pulled into the healthcare system to deliver benefits to patients.

Two years on from its launch, the UK’s Early Access to Medicines Scheme (EAMS) was under the spotlight at the conference with views from the MHRA, industry, NICE, NHS England and charity Cancer Research UK. The overarching view from across the panel was that it was encouraging to see the scheme growing and evolving. However there is still a question to address in terms of whether the success of EAMS is limited in its currently un-funded format.

Over the course of the afternoon, we heard from speakers on the early access tools available at a European and US level, including an update on the EMA’s adaptive pathways pilot project and new PRIME initiative. Dr Jordi Llinares, EMA, confirmed that following the second submission deadline last week, a total of 26 applications have been received for PRIME across a wide range of therapeutic indications. He also revealed that of the 18 applications made under the first submission deadline, 11 were from SMEs – great news for the scheme.

Do check out our pictures from the day in the slideshow below and on Flickr and you can also use our Storify story to see what was covered on the day.


Across the capital city today, Londoners are voting to decide who will succeed Boris Johnson as London Mayor. With London a key hub for the UK’s life science sector, the topic was the subject up for discussion at our most recent BIA Breakfast, kindly hosted by Taylor Wessing. Read on for highlights from the event and do keep an eye on the blog following the announcement of the new mayor for our take on the implications for the industry.

With a globally leading stock exchange, an internationally renowned regulator in the MHRA, some of the top universities in the world and important developments such as the Francis Crick Institute, London is a key hub for the life science sector on both a national and international level – a role which continues to build and grow.

As Boris Johnson’s time as Mayor of London drew to a close, our panel of speakers from across the industry provided their perspectives on what the new mayor could and should do for life sciences in London.


As Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Life Sciences and previous Deputy Mayor for Business and Enterprise, Kit Malthouse emphasised the importance of the life science sector to London’s economy. Coming out of the financial crash, there was a need for London to diversify its offering and, with its huge potential, the life science sector was recognised as an ideal candidate. During his time in City Hall, Kit saw the creation and launch of MedCity. Developed as a freestanding organisation, MedCity was created to live beyond the mayoral term and has been enormously successful.


Also present on the panel, Sarah Haywood, CEO, MedCity, was able to provide an update on the achievements of the organisation since its launch. MedCity brings together a number of stakeholders from across business, academia and the NHS – a vital role on which she hopes to see continued strong support from the new mayor. Kit also identified an important role for the incoming mayor in opening up the NHS to be more innovative and welcoming to private sector research.

Sarah also highlighted the importance of utilising the capital city as an entry point and magnet to attract companies and investment to the whole UK sector.

The two major priorities for MedCity revolve around unlocking space and capital across London. Since its launch two years ago, the organisation has been working to connect spaces across the city, something to be continued over the next mayoral term. In terms of unlocking the liquidity that exists in London, MedCity has been working closely with like-minded organisations and the London Stock Exchange to shout about the great opportunities that exist in life sciences to the general investment community. She also sees a key role for new Mayor in championing that work.


From an industry perspective, biotech entrepreneur Keith Powell discussed the lack of interest in the sector from the two leading mayoral candidates – a shame considering the tremendous research base in and around the capital and something the BIA and industry will need to address with the new mayor once elected. Jonny Ohlsen, CEO, Touchlight Genetics also highlighted the massive opportunity available to grow and nurture the next generation of science businesses in and around London.

According to Keith Powell, London ranks 10th in terms of cities investing in life sciences – he suggested an investment fund of £10M to support businesses is what is needed to help the industry reach its full potential.

Discussions in the Q&A also raised the importance of accessing capability within London, alongside the science base and capital, in order to transfer a product from innovation to commercialisation.

Check out our pictures from the day on our Flickr account here. For the latest information on all upcoming BIA events, please visit our website.

Earlier this month, for the third year we travelled to San Francisco with the UK delegation to SynBioBeta, a key conference for the synthetic biology or ‘engineering biology’ community. Here, we take a look back at some highlights of the trip – three days immersed in this burgeoning synthetic biology business and science community – and include a few links to find out more.

Supported by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), this year the trade mission organisers and funders were SynbiCITE, the synthetic biology innovation and knowledge centre based at Imperial College London.

The 2015 UK delegation included BIA members SynbiCITE, Synthace, Synpromics, Touchlight Genetics and ZuvaSyntha, alongside Alcmene Bioworks, Bento Bioworks, BioVernier, Desktop Genetics, LabGenius, Nanocage Technologies, Skillfluence, and SynbiSTRAIN; more information on all the companies is included in the trade mission brochure. Also at the conference were staff from the Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology at the University of Edinburgh, and BIA member Ingenza.

Prior to the SynBioBeta conference the delegation was kindly hosted for visits to six local companies, including sink-or-swim start-up incubator Indie-Bio, sonic liquid handling systems company Labcyte, cell-free protein synthesis company Sutro Biopharma, and REG Life Sciences (whose interesting background is explained here). We also returned to two of last year’s hosts – DNA design and assembly platform TeselaGen, and robotic cloud laboratory provider Transcriptic.

Sessions and lightning talks from the two-day conference covered topics such as biodesign, open source biology, gene editing, automation and international policy, while workshops included ‘designing experiments for Cas9-mediated gene knockouts’, and ‘protocols for cloud-based biology’. In the inaugural ‘SynBioBetas’ awards it was great to see recognition for BIA Board member Lord David Willetts, who was named the Best UK Industry Enabler for his efforts supporting the UK synthetic biology sector in his former role as Minister for Universities and Science.

A notable and important change at the SynBioBeta conference this year was the increased level of interest in the UK companies, as evidenced by the numerous conversations and business leads generated around the UKTI lounge area. As well as continuing to see exciting new start-ups emerging (some of which have received a great deal of interest from potential collaborators), there are also signs that the UK synbio scene is maturing; just one example illustrating this is the recent announcement from Synthace and MSD on their collaboration to develop a biomanufacturing platform for a number of undisclosed molecules.

For a flavour of this year’s trade mission and conference we’ve included a selection of photos below and you can look back over the tweets using the hashtag #SBBSF15.

The next SynBioBeta conference, SynBioBeta London 2016 will take place at Imperial College London on 6-8 April 2016 and is accepting speaker applications now.

If you are interested to find out more about the synthetic biology industry and the application of engineering principles to tackle biological challenges, contact Zoë Freeman, Secretariat for the BIA’s Synthetic Biology Advisory Committee

Following the success of our UK Bioscience Forum last month, check out our pictures from the conference below.

We’ve also created a Storify from the event, so you can catch up on all the highlights. View the story here.

Earlier this month, over 80 CEOs and investors gathered in Weybridge for our annual UK CEO and Investor Forum. It was great to see so many faces, old and new, meeting to discuss the latest opportunities and challenges in the sector, including some of our newest BIA members – Vasgen, Calchan and IONTAS.

Some interesting discussions were had on driving value through diversity and corporate culture – something the BIA continues to be interested in hearing members’ views and experience on.

To coincide with the event, the BIA also published a new report with market intelligence firm Evaluate. The report, UK Biotech: a 10 year horizon contains some interesting and useful data sets for the sector, including the headline that this year and last are setting new records in financing for the sector.

The CEO forum provided the chance to discuss the new data, including the argument that the UK biotech funding ecosystem is doing things differently this time around – meaning that the UK financing system for innovative companies is better able to withstand a cyclical change than that in the US.

As always, some captivating discussions and debates from one of our flagship events. Check out some pictures from the forum below.