BIA responds to government announcement of significant cash funding to support scaling life sciences companies

Steve Bates OBE, Chief Executive of the UK BioIndustry Association said: "The UK life science ecosystem leads Europe in investment and is the world’s third global cluster in innovative life sciences.  It’s great to see the Prime Minister has reaffirmed the government’s commitment to the UK life science industrial strategy to grow companies to scale in the UK. UK based entrepreneurs share his ambition to make this a key and vibrant sector of the UK’s economy going forward. 

“In citing the Solexa heritage from the UK which is at the heart of Illumina’s success the Prime Minister has clearly done his homework in analysing the challenge of investment for the UK’s scaling life science businesses.

“The BIA’s own analysis tells us that generalist investors who have the ability to deploy the sums of capital needed to globally scale businesses are interested in opportunities in our sector but require confidence in the expert management leading life science investment funds. That’s why the announcement of a “new talent scheme of UK fund managers to attract the best from around the world” may prove the most important of the package unveiled today. More work remains to be done to encourage UK pension funds to back Britain’s growing life science businesses and for London to become the go-to public market for life science businesses. 

“The BIA looks forward to deepening it’s work with the government to support investors navigating the UK health system and understand high priority areas for investment – as we have done successfully recently on cell and gene therapy.

“It is vital that government money leveraging in private sector investment works at both the pace and scale needed by growing life science businesses. The BIA is meeting with the British Business Bank in October and will press to ensure the “new dedicated fund to support the growth of more UK-based cutting-edge health and life sciences companies” can get money into companies as soon as possible. This is particularly important in the coming weeks as UK based life science venture capital funds look set to lose access to European Investment Bank money, which has been a cornerstone investor in funds supporting our sector, as a result of Brexit.

“If this mechanism is not able to fund life science companies by the time of Brexit a proven, cost effective, existing mechanism called the Biomedical Catalyst run by Innovate UK is available. It should be refilled and opened immediately.”  

Editors Notes

1. BIA report on Investment into UK life science https://www.bioindustry.org/resource-listing/confident-capital-backing-uk-biotech.html

2. BIA report with ARM on opportunities in Cell and Gene https://www.bioindustry.org/resource-listing/leading-innovation.html

3. For more on the background to Solexa/Illumina’s history see the official history at: https://www.illumina.com/science/technology/next-generation-sequencing/illumina-sequencing-history.html. Solexa’s success was not simply UK technology but the acquisition of Swiss based Manteia Predictive Medicine, which was a Serono spin out and was based on work done at Glaxo-Wellome’s Geneva Biomedical Research Institute between 1996 and 2001. It was able to attract venture capital investment in the UK before reverse merging into a US company when it sought access to the NASDAQ public market in 2005.  

4. For more infromation please contact Jack Fellows, Communications and Media Manager, on jfellows@bioindustry.org