CEO Update - 12 February 2024

Deep Biotech launch

It was great to see the hugely positive response we’ve had to the launch of our new report "Deep Biotech: Disruptive innovation for global sustainability"

I believe we're on the cusp of a biorevolution powered by Deep Biotech, and I want our Association at the forefront of shaping the future of Deep Biotech and championing its disruptive potential.

I hope this new resource for companies and policymakers does three things. First, explains the revolutionary power of Deep Biotech: unlocking its transformative applications and improving sustainability across various sectors, from energy and materials to food and the environment. Second, inspires and promotes through case studies: showcases cutting-edge companies pioneering Deep Biotech solutions, from sustainable biofuels to lab-grown meat, including Moa Technology, Solena Materials, Phycobloom, Quest Meat and Epoch Biodesign. Third, sets out key challenges and opportunities like addressing the regulatory, economic, and public acceptance hurdles Deep Biotech faces and outlines defining priorities and directions of its development to overcome them. 

It’s a call to action, inviting policymakers, investors, and the public to join us in harnessing the immense power of Deep Biotech. Together, we can build a more sustainable, healthier future for generations to come.

To celebrate the report’s publication, we held a launch event last week, kindly hosted by Osborne Clarke.

A panel of experts examined the opportunities and challenges for Deep Biotech from the perspective of business, government and the investor community.

It was wonderful to see so many mission-driven people, working across diverse industries, being brought together by the transformative power of Deep Biotech.



Major science and tech package to spark UK innovation and growth

It was pleasing to see the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan MP unveil a raft of new announcements to drive innovation in science to mark the department’s first anniversary.

£100 million has been awarded to six new ‘Engineering Biology Mission Hubs’ and 22 ‘Mission Award’ projects across the country, that will look to build on Engineering Biology’s enormous potential to address global challenges, drive economic growth, and increase national resilience. We look forward to engaging UK SMEs with the hubs and missions to grow the UK’s sustainable competitive advantage in this cutting-edge field.

The timely nature of these announcements reinforces that our commitment to Deep Biotech puts us firmly in the right place at the right time. Watch this space as we continue to support the burgeoning Deep Biotech community.

National Apprenticeship Week

During National Apprenticeships Week BIA member companies attended an Advanced Therapies Apprenticeship Community (ATAC) event at National Horizon Centre in Darlington as part of their annual roadshow. Gillian Keegan, Secretary of State for Education, attended this year's event hosted by Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and Teesside University and was treated to a tour of the Advanced Therapies Skills and Training Network facilities, a practical demonstration in the training laboratories by apprentices from NHS Blood Transplant, CGT Catapult, Pharmaron and CPI and took part in an interactive workshop discussing opportunities and challenges of apprenticeships.

“Apprenticeships open doors to a range of exciting careers in our booming biosciences and healthcare sectors, so it’s great to see a dynamic organisation like CGT Catapult investing in future talent this National Apprenticeship Week. The northeast of England has a great tradition of industry and innovation, and apprenticeships are bringing that can-do spirit of hard graft into the 21st century, enabling people to pursue careers at the cutting edge of science and technology without necessarily needing to take on student debt.”  Education Secretary Gillian Keegan

With over 70% of occupations now covered by an apprenticeship route, there are plenty of opportunities across sectors, including science, digital and leadership roles, to bring in new talent to an organisation as well as upskill colleagues within the business. An apprentice can be anyone over the age of 16 with funding available for formal training and independent assessment against an approved standard from the apprenticeship levy. Gillian was delighted to present Andy Campbell from Pharmaron and a recent graduate of the Data Analyst apprenticeship (Distinction) with his graduation certificate from the ATAC – a moment he will definitely remember!

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Notable developments

BIA member Autolus and BioNTech announced a strategic CAR-T Cell Therapy Collaboration last week. The alliance leverages manufacturing and commercial infrastructure as well as technology to advance both companies’ autologous CAR-T programs towards market and coincides with a new $600 million funding round for Autolus

It was also good to see Redx Pharma's latest deal with Jazz Pharmaceuticals, since as Lisa Anson, the chief executive of Redx Pharma, said “partnerships remain a key pillar of our corporate strategy”. Jazz will acquire Redx’s early-stage oncology programme developing inhibitors to target commonly occurring gene mutations to treat colorectal, pancreatic and lung cancer patients.

Indro Mukerjee stands down

Indro Mukerjee announced that he will conclude his role as CEO of Innovate UK at the end of September this year. Indro has been a strong champion of UK innovation and a trusted ally for us at the BIA, we look forward to eight more months of productive partnership and will continue to work closely with the entire Innovate UK team.

Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation is also not seeking a second term of office and will step down at the end of June 2025.

Supply Chains Strategy

The Department of Business and Trade (DBT) have this month launched its new Critical Imports and Supply Chains Strategy. The Strategy sets out how government is working with business and international partners to build resilient supply chains, demonstrating that the UK is a safe and reliable place to do business. As part of the Strategy, the Supply Resilience Directorate has contributed a case study on the health supply chain, including the work of the National Supply Disruption Response (NSDR) team and long-term supply resilience projects we are undertaking in our sector. This case study can be found on page 27 of the Strategy, while a mention of our Industry Placement Scheme can be found on page 18. Read the press release.

Understanding the business requirements of the NHS Research SDE Network

NHS Research Secure Data Environment (SDE) Network is undertaking a survey to understand the business requirements of SDEs from health data users. They are interested in how access to a longitudinal patient-level dataset that captures the entire patient journey could help support industry, academia, and medical research charities' goals. Take part in this survey to share your views.

Sad news about Sir David Cooksey

I was saddened to hear of the death of Sir David Cooksey, aged 83. His vital contributions to the UK life sciences ecosystem we have today are too numerous to list here but the Francis Crick Institute – which he Chaired between 2009 and 2017 – has a must-read tribute to him. He was a British venture capital pioneer, and in later life instrumental in setting up the Crick and NIHR. The latter was the product of the Biosciences Innovation & Growth Taskforce, formed by the Government and BIA in 2003 and chaired by Sir David. He was kind enough to share with me exactly how he got things done over a memorable lunch a few years ago and I hope our work as an Association continues much of what he worked on in an honourable tradition. He will be missed and not forgotten.

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Steve Bates OBE
CEO, BioIndustry Association

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