CEO Update - 10 June 2024

UK General Election

With the world in election season (India, Europe and now France), I’ve been keeping an eye on the UK General election campaign and what it may mean for our sector. Last week was dominated by leader and TV debates and D-Day – with the PM leaving early being heavily criticised. The polls haven’t moved much, and Labour still has a large lead. Nigel Farage becoming the leader of Reform may change the dynamics in some seats (if they can successfully stand candidates).

The week ahead will see manifesto launches with the current expectation that the Liberal Democrats will launch on Monday, the Conservative Party rumoured to publish on Tuesday, the Green Party on Wednesday and Labour’s publication expected on Thursday.

Labour’s Small Business Saturday was less noticed – where a new document was published. A few snippets of interest for our sector include:

  • A pledge to “make Brexit work by improving on the Conservatives’ thin deal when the TCA renewal period comes in 2025,” including “seeking a sanitary and phytosanitary agreement to make it easier to move food products across the border.”
  • A reform to the Apprenticeship Levy “into a new Growth and Skills Levy to give businesses greater flexibility.”
  • A commitment to start-up and scale-up, “Chief among the barriers to overcome is access to finance to scale, with the UK lagging behind our competitors. Labour will unlock the supply of patient capital for technology-intensive, early-stage businesses ensuring that institutional investors and VCs are best placed to invest alongside the British Business Bank. Labour will also reform the British Business Bank to give it a more ambitious remit, helping it better support SMEs and giving it a stronger mandate to support regional growth.”

I’m also expecting the development of a business tax roadmap in the first six months of government by Rachel Reeves to be a key focus for our sector if Labour forms the government in July.

Cambridge opens its doors on Wednesday

Wednesday 12 June marks Season 2 of the Cambridge Wide Open Day. A wide community across the city and beyond are coming together to showcase and share the present-day buzz and excitement of science and tech in Cambridge with the world. Over 100 companies, venues and organisations participated in the inaugural Cambridge Wide Open Day last year. There is a mix of tours, talks, workshops, clinics, product demos and pitches involving the leading people, companies and parks in Cambridge. This year almost 200 venues and companies have registered. Some of the new venues include Granta Park, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge Biomed Campus, Co-Labs by Journey, the Institute for Sustainability Leadership - University of Cambridge, and Epicentre, amongst others. And as the day draws to a close, there is a cocktail party in the gardens of the heritage Hauxton House, The Mill SciTech Park at 4pm.

So whether you are an investor curious to deep dive into the early-stage science and tech startups scene in Cambridge, you work inside or outside Cambridge, or are a local resident who wants to have a sneak peek into what’s going on behind the curtains of Cambridge, sign up, drop-in or join the bus tour to explore the world-class clusters of the city. Sign-up is needed for many of the events before the day so do register by Tuesday if you are interested.

TechBio companies pitch at the LSE

It was great to see exciting UK health tech companies including CardiaTec Biosciences, Turing Biosystems, CoSyne Therapeutics, Sixfold Biotech, Imperagen, Oxford Drug Design, Valink Therapeutics, PharmEnable Therapeutics, BIOS and Constructive Bio pitch at the Health Tech Showcase on 5 June, hosted at the London Stock Exchange by UK government’s venture capital unit. Next week the Exchange is hosting a Future of Healthcare Forum on 19 June. As well as more pitches, this is a great networking opportunity. 

AZ event last Friday

It was great to be asked to take part in AstraZeneca’s Exchange event last Friday at the incredible Discovery Centre (DISC). The day celebrated the Cambridge ecosystem, AstraZeneca’s important role within the community and the embodiment of that in the DISC.  We heard from Susan Galbraith and Steve Rees of AZ, Professor Anna Philpott from the University of Cambridge, a great panel on the role of mentoring and Jane Wall gave BIA’s reflections on the UK life sciences ecosystem.  Good to see so many BIA members and stakeholders there on the day.

BIO last week

San Diego was buzzing last week with 20,000 delegates for the BIO Convention. I was pleased to see the UK very well represented with over 200 companies from our ecosystem, the Department for Business and Trade plus the devolved nations, and our own Alina O’Keefe and Martin Turner flying the flag. We also sponsored the UK Pavilion and the UK reception, both of which demonstrated the UK’s prominence at the heart of the vibrant global sector.

BIA at BIO BIA at BIO

It’s great to hear members report upbeat and positive partnering conversations, and our own reps met with multiple US companies and trade representatives keen to build bridges with the UK. Drug pricing and the BIOSECURE Act, not to mention November’s Presidential election, dominated many of the panels and discussions. BIO also launched the results of their new survey assessing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the biotechnology industry, mirroring BIA’s own survey publication last year.

We also met our policy colleagues from around the world at the International Council of Biotechnology Associations (ICBA), and I’m delighted to see Dr Claire Skentelbery, Director General of EuropaBio, taking the helm as Chair of the organisation for the next year. With so many elections happening around the world there’s rarely been a time when it’s more important for the sector to have a strong and coordinated policy voice to feed into the priorities for new governments.

UK tech secures £100 million funding for first-of-Its-kind incontinence therapy

Amber Therapeutics, a UK medical tech company, secured a massive $100 million Series A funding round. This funding will advance their development of Amber-UI, a groundbreaking therapy for mixed urinary incontinence in women. If approved by the US FDA, Amber-UI would be the first fully implantable solution using nerve stimulation to treat both urge and stress incontinence.

Life Science Leadership Summit event next week

I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at the BIA’s Life Science Leadership Summit next week (registration is closed now). If you haven’t yet completed the survey on the expected impact of US policy on supply chains in China, I encourage you to do so by 13 June, so we can have an evidence-based discussion as part of the packed agenda.

Steve Bates Headshot.png

 

 

Steve Bates OBE
CEO, BioIndustry Association

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CEO Update - 10 June 2024

UK General Election and what it might mean for the industry, including Labour's pledges on Brexit and business taxes. Upcoming events including the Cambridge Wide Open Day and the Life Science Leadership Summit. UK tech companies pitching at the London Stock Exchange and Amber Therapeutics securing $100 million in funding.

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