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.



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.


Do you have a video you would like the sector to see? Contact us.


BrisSynBio is a multi-disciplinary research centre that focuses on the biomolecular design and engineering aspects of synthetic biology, and has been established as one of six Synthetic Biology Research Centres in the UK. Find out more about the centre and its new Innovation Programme in today’s guest blog from Andy Boyce, BrisSynBio Innovation Manager.

Bristol is one of those cities that people move to and never leave. The people are friendly; the city is dotted with beautiful old buildings, giant painted Gromit statues and original Banksy art; and you can get high-quality organic falafel on almost any street corner. There’s a great start-up scene for digital tech and creative industries. However, despite some truly world-class bioscience research, there is a noticeable lack of biotech companies. I think that this may be about to change and that synthetic biology will be the key to unlocking Bristol’s biotech potential.

Like many other institutions, the University of Bristol has been riding the wave of excitement for synthetic biology. Off the back of some fantastic basic science, it was awarded one of the UK Synthetic Biology Research Centre grants from BBSRC and EPSRC. This initial £16M five-year programme established BrisSynBio, a multidisciplinary institute that acts as the focal point for over £70M of synthetic biology related research at the University.

At just over halfway through the project, BrisSynBio is in an exciting and productive phase. Researchers are generating high impact synthetic biology papers, and new engineering approaches have enabled a rapid translation from basic science to close-to-market products and services. It was this wealth of commercially relevant projects that prompted BrisSynBio to get in some dedicated resource (that’s me!) to accelerate these ideas to market and encourage the next wave of spin-outs, licencing deals and industrial partnerships. I’ve had superb support from BrisSynBio management and researchers, and after a few frenetic months we’re excited to announce our new BrisSynBio Innovation Programme.


The deliberately ambitious vision for the programme is: (1) to develop a self-sustaining funding stream from BrisSynBio innovation activities; (2) to establish BrisSynBio as a high-profile centre for synthetic biology innovation with a vibrant industrial network; and (3) to foster a long-term culture of innovation at all levels of BrisSynBio students and staff. While these are long-term aspirations, we are close to reaching our first major milestones. Our first spinout company will be incorporated in Q1 2017, we will hold the first in a series of BrisSynBio Connect industry engagement events in April, and we have opened applications for a joint business acumen course with SynbiCITE.

We’ve been helped in our efforts by a University and citywide resurgence in excitement for innovation and biotechnology. BioDesign has been announced as one of seven new Specialist Research Institutes, which represent the areas where the University of Bristol sees potential for significant growth and international leadership. In addition, new Bristol biotech companies can benefit from the world’s top rated university incubator (SETSquared) and dedicated lab space in two new purpose built facilities (Unit DX and Future Space).


There will be lots more coming in 2017 and we would be delighted to hear from you if you are interested in collaborating or want to know more about what we are up to.

Andy Boyce, BrisSynBio Innovation Manager:


Alzheimer’s Research UK Champion, Shaheen Larrieux, felt like she was ‘walking through darkness’ for years before her mother, Hosna, 70, was diagnosed with behavioural variant Frontotemporal Dementia (bvFTD) in 2013. The symptoms – including aggression and inappropriate behaviour in public – started a decade ago but she could not understand what was causing her mum to act so differently. Shaheen, who shared her story at the BIA Gala Dinner, talks about the devastating effect dementia has had on her family and the sacrifices she has made to give her mum the best possible care.  

Around 10 years ago my life changed completely. I used to have a high flying career as a Chemical Engineer and Management Consultant, which enabled me to travel the world, but this was all put on hold when my mum started experiencing signs of dementia.

I first realised something wasn’t right when I had to do more of her daily tasks, such as paying bills or making decisions for the family business. But it wasn’t only me who noticed a difference, she had become aggressive and my family would tell me to take her to see a doctor.

Mum was initially misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011, but we were offered little support and her behaviour continued to get worse, particularly in public. She would turn up at the doctor’s surgery and interrupt other appointments. She also became obsessed with young children, often walking up to them in the street to pinch their cheeks. Our relationship suffered too. I would spend hours crying because I could not understand why she was being so horrible to me.


It wasn’t until 2013 that we finally got an accurate diagnosis. Mum had bvFTD, which affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain regulating personality, emotions and language use. This did make things easier because I could properly understand what was going on and was able to empathise with her, but we still had a battle on our hands to get her the care she needed.

Despite dementia being so prominent in today’s society, I continue to be shocked by how little understanding there is – in Bangladeshi culture we do not even have a word for it. As my mum’s behaviour got worse, our family life became more difficult. The social isolation became acute because of changes in her behaviour.

I did not realise I had become her carer, so my whole life was put on hold, which left me feeling very depressed and socially isolated at times. I’ve always been fiercely ambitious and was looking forward to taking the next step in my career, but those plans had to change. My mum’s condition is getting worse, her mobility is limited and she can barely speak, which is incredibly hard for my dad because it is like he has lost his wife.


This is why it is so important to fund research into dementia and the diseases that cause it, because of the devastating impact it has not only on the person with dementia, but everyone else around them.

Thanks to Alzheimer’s Research UK, I have been given my life back and I feel valued in society once again. Through the charity, I’ve been given so many fantastic opportunities to really make a difference, such as sitting on the panel to help select the director of the UK Dementia Research Institute and campaigning at the House of Lords.

I embrace every chance I get to raise awareness of dementia and the work of Alzheimer’s Research UK, which is why I was honoured to be asked to speak at the BIA Gala Dinner, and I’m delighted that the UK BIA has chosen to support this fantastic charity. I’m hopeful for a future free from dementia, but in the meantime, I will do everything I can to change public perception of this condition so no one is left feeling alone.

--- 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.



Find out what happened at the 2016 UK Bioscience Forum and why our members find it such a useful event.

Don’t forget to get this year’s date in your diary – 12 October 2017

Do you have a video you would like the sector to see? Contact us.

q-report-cover-oct-2016-to-jan-2017With the EU referendum, a new UK Government, and the US general election, 2016 has been 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. 

Download the report in full here and read on for a summary of some of the key topics covered in this edition. For a snapshot of our activity throughout 2016, check out our year in numbers.

Life Sciences, Brexit, and the Industrial Strategy

In the final quarter of 2016, the BIA continued to work to ensure the bioscience sector is at the heart of Government thinking in the lead-up to the triggering of Article 50 at the end of March. The UK-EU Life Sciences Transition Programme continued with key industry-Government meetings. At the Ministerial meeting on 23 November, a process for developing a new Life Sciences Industrial Strategy was established to complement the groups work on Brexit. The industry component of this work is being led by the Government’s Life Sciences Champion, Sir John Bell, with the BIA, ABPI, and Wellcome Trust, among others, represented on the steering group. The programme of work will involve a number of workshops to produce detailed ideas for consideration by a joint Government-industry board, which includes the BIA.

In November, the BIA published a background discussion document called The place of bioscience in the UK’s Industrial Strategy to begin the conversation with members and policy makers on what our sector needs to continue to grow and succeed.

BIA fiscal wins in the Autumn Statement

With his first Autumn Statement, Chancellor Philip Hammond MP sought to show the UK is “open for business” and remains committed to being a science superpower post-Brexit.

An additional £4.7 billion was committed for research and innovation for this Parliament, which is expected to result in a “substantial increase in grant funding through Innovate UK”. The BIA welcomed this along with two new reviews on patient capital and improving the R&D tax incentive regime, which the BIA called for in its submission and discussed with the new Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jane Ellison MP, ahead of the Autumn Statement. The BIA has upcoming meetings with the Treasury officials leading the reviews.

The Autumn Statement also confirmed the £100 million refill for the Biomedical Catalyst (BMC). We have produced an infographic showing how the BIA and its members have consistently campaigned since 2013 to keep this proven successful scheme funded to support early-stage bioscience.


Advanced Therapies Manufacturing Action Plan published

Early in 2016 the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP), supported by BIA, ABPI and Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), launched a joint industry-Government Taskforce to make the UK the go to destination for international investment in advanced therapies manufacturing. The Sector is expected to grow to be worth between $14-21 billion globally per year by 2025. The Taskforce is co-chaired by Ian McCubbin of GSK and Jo Johnson MP, with Mark Bustard of KTN leading the secretariat, and has representation from industry, academia, Government departments and associated bodies, including funders and regulators.

The resulting Action Plan, which outlines the key actions the UK can take to capture advanced therapies manufacturing investment, was launched to industry at the bioProcessUK conference on 23 November and simultaneously presented to Government at the Ministerial Industrial Strategy Group (MISG).


Download Influencing and shaping our sector: BIA update October 2016 – January 2017 for details on the above topics and more. Including the Accelerated Access Review final report, the Advanced Therapies Manufacturing Action Plan and changes to the evaluation and funding of medicines appraised by NICE.

To learn more about BIA’s policy, public affairs and regulatory affairs work, see our previous quarterly policy updates, our consultation responses, or email Rachael with any questions.


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.


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!



As we gear up to next week’s BIA Gala Dinner, our video today comes from Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Watch the video below to find out more about dementia ahead of the dinner, where we’ll be raising money for the charity through our silent auction.

Do you have a video you would like the sector to see? Contact us.