CEO Update | 11 April 2022

Strong venture capital quarter for UK biotech as sector advances in all quarters 

Last week, we released new data showing that UK biotech companies continue to demonstrate they command the confidence of global venture capital(VC) investors with £453m raised in the first quarter of 2022. The first quarter is the best for UK biotech VC financing ever recorded by BIA and Clarivate and neither the US nor China enjoyed the same year on year growth. The data was covered in this weekend’s Sunday Times with analysis from our Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Dr Martin Turner.

Alongside this financial investment, the UK biotech and life sciences sector continues to demonstrate its global hub status with a range of significant developments in the first quarter of 2022.  

Life Science real estate investment in laboratories has enjoyed a strategic boost with the Canary Wharf group investing £500m in building life science space in its North Quay development and, retail space in Oxford (Clarendon Centre) is being redeveloped with laboratory space. Key new companies have chosen the UK for operations including Altos Labs, backed by Jeff Bezos, which announced Cambridge UK as its European base, and EyeBio, founded by American entrepreneurs and chaired by Dame Kate Bingham, choosing the UK to base their operations.

In 2022, the UK is the place in the world where global biotech capital works hardest. This quarter, the UK continues to attract investment because companies engaged in and operating from here, are able to be operationally more efficient than elsewhere in the globe.  

As a result, our sector is well poised to deliver further economic benefit to UK taxpayers and local economies, with laboratory space set to be a key part of the British high street and office space, and sector investments occurring in all areas of the UK delivering high skilled well-paid jobs.  

Catalent purchases Vaccine Manufacturing Innovation Centre (VMIC)  

Last week Catalent confirmed that it had acquired the Vaccine Manufacturing Innovation Centre(VMIC)  based in Harwell, Oxford. I welcome Catalent’s purchase of the VMIC facility. They have the track record of, and ability to, invest further in the site and team for years to come. Through this process a significant US manufacturer has been brought into the UK bioprocessing ecosystem. 

Significant additional private and public sector vaccine manufacturing capability is coming online in the next few years in the UK.  The UK already has more capability than was identified at the start of the pandemic in early 2020, which can support future global pandemic responses, and the creation of other innovative therapies and medicines for the benefit of patients. 

I have written a more detailed blog on the story of VMIC, laying out the change of role for VMIC during the pandemic, the increase in UK manufacturing capability since the start of the pandemic and how an international buyer, shows international opportunity in the UK.

Interesting to note that AXA IM Alts have launched a new $500m Global Health Strategy. The Strategy focuses specifically on four core areas of innovation: medical devices, biopharmaceuticals, vaccines, and diagnostics and on investments into healthcare companies that are in late clinical and/or early commercial stage.  

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Steve Bates OBE
CEO, BioIndustry Association


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