CEO Update | 13 September 2021


Many thanks to BIA members who made our annual Parliament Day last week such a success. It was great to meet ministers, policy makers and MPs in person and virtually, to discuss the priorities and opportunities for our sector. What struck me was how aware stakeholders were of the opportunities our sector presents for future health benefits for patients and aiding the UK economic recovery from the pandemic.  

We were kindly hosted by Anthony Browne MP in the Terrace Pavilion of the House of Commons for a lunchtime reception where we launched our report ‘Becoming a life sciences superpower’ which includes our recommendations for the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) which has been confirmed by the Chancellor to be on the 27 October.  

This CSR is the key moment for the Government to deliver on its promise to make the UK a life sciences superpower. Committing to a long-term budget for Innovate UK and the Biomedical Catalyst will secure vital funding for the UK’s pipeline of entrepreneurial SMEs to scale and grow, which will aid the economic recovery and bring future therapies more quickly to patients.  
To read our report and its recommendation please follow this link, and to see photos from the day please go here

Government strategy to be announced on ‘UK living with COVID-19’  

We expect the Government to lay out its strategy on the next steps of the UK’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday. In news stories over the weekend it was suggested that the Prime Minister will announce vaccine booster campaign plans and a decision on whether 12-15 years olds will be vaccinated. We also hope to see further details on the Government’s plans for antibody treatments and antivirals. The UK goes into the winter in a strong position with a great vaccination programme and great clinical insight thanks to investment in life sciences research. 
This means that decisions on next steps can be informed by strong data. Having invested in great vaccines, great clinical trials and great manufacturing assets, the key challenge in the coming period will be to match manufacturing assets quickly with the key novel vaccines and therapeutics needed here and across the globe. This will need continuing agility and partnership working, which have been the hallmark of the sectors success in the last couple of years.  
The announcement may also change rules for travel, and requirements on businesses in terms of sick pay and other matters, so we’ll brief fully on the implications for our sector in coming communications.  

Join a BIA event this week  

Our busy Autumn programme of events for members continues with our Accelerating Drug Discovery through digital and AI innovations webinar this Wednesday, our latest Women in Biotech being held in person in Cambridge on September 23 and the flagship life sciences sector event the Bioscience Forum on October 14. To find out further details please follow this link

BIA Annual General Meeting 2020 – Extension to Nominations for BIA Board Election 

Following on from our email in the summer, the BIA Annual General Meeting will now be held virtually on Tuesday 19th October 2021 from 16.30-17.15hrs. Consequently, we are delighted to extend our invitation for nominations from individuals interested in joining our Board, to the close of business on Monday 20th September 2021. 

This year, there are five places up for election - four for 'Corporate' members and one for 'Other' members. The elections will take place during September and into October, and pending approval at the AGM in the Autumn, those elected will join the BIA's Board commencing 1 January 2021 and will serve a three-year term.  

Please submit your nomination by the end of the day, Monday 20th September 2021, together with a photograph and a brief biography of between 200-300 words to Nick Gardiner, Company Secretary  

World’s largest clinical trial beginning for 50 types of cancer  

Good news this morning that the NHS will begin the world’s biggest trial of Grail’s Galleri blood test that can be used to detect more than 50 types of cancer before symptoms appear. It is great to see the UK as the global test bed for breakthrough life sciences approaches and that there is partnership with a key global player.  

Investment into UK companies 

At Parliament Day we heard about a significant raise by BIA member Pet Medix, who have raised $37m in a series B round which will be used to advance its innovative pipeline through clinical development. Congratulations to Thomas Weaver and the team.  

MHRA approves Sotarasib  

Really good news to see that the MHRA has approved Sotarasib which targets a gene mutation and will treat a certain form of lung cancer. I noted that this approval came through Project Orbis and that Sotarasib is the second treatment to come through this pathway. More information can be found here.  

Department of International Trade virtual pharma mission to India   

The Department of International Trade will be holding a virtual mission to India from 30 November to 1 December. This amounts to a strong business opportunity for UK suppliers and exporters where the Indian bio-pharma industry is looking to move up the value chain by investing in new drug discovery and delivery, vaccines as well as nutraceuticals for preventive care. Further details can be found here.   

YES21 open for applications 

The Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES) is an exciting opportunity for PhD students, postdocs and research staff to learn how ideas can be commercialised. YES21 is organised into four themes – biotechnology, engineering, environment and fintech. YES will cultivate business acumen, expand industry networks, develop transferable skills, explore career options and enhance CVs. FREE places available for BBSRC funded postdocs. Application deadline 24th September. More information is available on the YES website

UKRI-BBSRC Artificial Intelligence survey

URKI-BBSRC is seeking input from the sector to further explore the emerging potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in relation to the biosciences and help us understand future requirements and ensure AI can have transformative impact within the biosciences.

The survey is now live with a deadline for responses on the 22 September. More information and the link to the survey can be found on their website, please follow this link.