CEO Update | 07 June 2021

Biomedical Catalyst

Following a major campaign by the BIA to secure fresh funding for the Biomedical Catalyst, details of the new competition have gone live today on the Innovate UK website which can be found here.

G7 this week

A big week of international diplomacy lies ahead for the UK with the G7 meeting in Cornwall and important issues for our sector will be at the fore. The Prime Minister will use the event to push for speedy delivery of Covid vaccines to the world. Some of the detail is already clear in the communique issued at the end of the G7 Health Ministers meeting that happened in Oxford last week. It shows global consensus on clinical trial development, AMR, digital health and global health security and shapes the likely international agenda for the months and years ahead. 

The International Council of Biotech Associations (ICBA) is co-ordinating a letter from Biotech CEOs around the world to be used with multinational organisations – if you are asked to sign this week please do – it is vital the UK is well represented in this global endeavour.

How we got here - Learnings from the pandemic response

I was interested by Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s speech at Oxford last week ahead of the G7 Health Ministers meeting.  The Secretary of State was rightly celebrating the success of the UK’s vaccination programme and I’ve written to him about the importance of an ecosystem approach enabled the UK’s response.  Mr Hancock said: In some areas of our pandemic response, we didn’t have great strengths to start with. And in vaccines, we had some significant gaps too, like the capacity to manufacture on-shore.

Through 2020 the UK’s COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing response was delivered by a vibrant, innovative economically powerful biomanufacturing community that, together with the Vaccine Taskforce and coordinated by BIA, was able to pivot at pace to provide the scaled UK based manufacturing capability through companies like Cobra, Wockhardt and Oxford Biomedica which were needed to supply the Oxford vaccine as AstraZeneca’s UK supply chain.

Rather than this being a gap, the UK here built on a core strength. The UK biomanufacturing community started early and provided a worked-up plan to government in the first quarter of 2020, which it then delivered on through 2020, enabling the NHS and others to regulate, deploy and accept the vaccine at speed.

It is because the UK had the foresight and entrepreneurial community investing in advanced therapies, which the Government had been supporting and investing in for years prior to pandemic that we had capability and the technology to pivot to vaccines.

Matt Hancock gives his evidence to the joint Health and Science Select Committees in Parliament this week and I will watch with interest to see if there is further discussion on the future of industrial strategy and the life science vision. 

New Innovation District – ID Manchester

Fantastic news came out of Manchester last week when the University of Manchester announced Bruntwood SciTech as its preferred bidder to deliver a £1.5 billion innovation district - ID Manchester - which will be dedicated to the growth of the science and technology sector. More details about this exciting development can be found here.

Arecor list on AIM

Congratulations to BIA member Arecor which listed on AIM last week and raised £20 million in an oversubscribed raise, further details can be found here.

Rare Disease Industry Group (RDIG) Patient Group Roundtable

This week the BIA’s Rare Disease Industry Group (RDIG) will be hosting a roundtable which will bring together a range of patient groups in the rare disease community.

We are aiming to facilitate a discussion with patient groups about the key barriers rare disease patients face in accessing medicines and how RDIG can continue to engage with NICE though their Methods Review to remove these barriers. The roundtable will be another opportunity to present RDIG’s key findings and recommendations that were outlined in A Rare Chance for Reform.

As part of the NICE Methods and Process Review, RDIG has been engaging through the consultation process to communicate how the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) process can be adapted to address the unmet need of the rare disease community. The roundtable will give patient groups the opportunity to inform RDIG’s future engagement with NICE during the next stages of the review.

ACT – A Therapeutics Pillar

The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator Therapeutics Pillar is inviting pharmaceutical manufacturers and interested stakeholders to a webinar to provide an update on ACT-A and the different mechanisms that the Therapeutics Pillar is putting in place to support the successful uptake by countries of therapeutics for COVID-19 as they are recommended. More details can be found here.