CEO Update | 14 November 2022

Ahead of the Autumn Statement

R&D tax credits must be reformed, not cut back if the UK is to become an Innovation Nation. This is the central argument of a must-read key think tank report, which is out today, ahead of the UK Government’s Autumn statement this Thursday. It is great to see that Onward has adopted our call to expand tax reliefs so that loss-making companies can receive cash credits for capital R&D investments, given the impressive team and alumni they have. I believe this report will have significant impact on the new Government’s approach in this area.

In the report, Matthew Burnett, Head of Science and Technology at Onward argues that the UK is 'still lagging behind the leading tech economies, and business R&D is what will allow us to catch up. The Government should reform R&D tax incentives to make sure they are up to date, incentivising cutting-edge research methods, supporting the most effective spending, and reducing the amount of fraud in the system.'

The BIA has been deeply involved in providing detailed evidence for policymakers on how our sector works here. This afternoon, the Chair of our Finance and Tax Committee, Colin Hailey is giving evidence to the House of Lords on this very subject - R&D tax reliefs. He’ll be explaining why it's vital that BIA members are able to continue to claim for expenditure on R&D conducted overseas – in order to be able to deliver global firsts and stay world-leading. You can watch him live at 4pm and read our written submission to the Lord's Committee. The BIA team has had detailed engagement with HM Treasury and UK Parliamentarians on this issue over several months to explain and secure some vital provisions specific to our sector. We have always maintained a balanced position on this policy area and I think there is significant merit in a clampdown on “no win no fee” tax consultants not covered by professional regulation. In falsely promising non-innovative SMEs free money they clog up the system with dubious claims, not related to proper R&D, and make the system less efficient which takes time and effort from HMRC Inspectors who could be doing more worthwhile things. It’s time to end this now and I hope we see a crackdown in Thursday’s statement. 

The innovation agenda will be one small but important part of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, which will set out how the Government plans its future income and expenditure and how it plans to balance the books. We will be looking closely at how this will impact science and innovation funding. In the runup to the fiscal event, we have been working with our partners to call for the Government to maintain existing commitments to raise public R&D investment. Keep a look out for our analysis on what the statement means for our sector and register for the BIA webinar were we will unpick the details on 29 November. It is often the case that the devil is in the detail which isn’t always apparent in the first flush of media headlines so we hope to be able to give a detailed and reflective expert analysis in two week's time.

Pfizer publish Breakthough Nation

BIA member Pfizer UK is publishing the second edition of Breakthrough Nation – a future-focused vision for how Life Sciences can drive the UK’s health, wealth and resilience. As the UK continues to transition from pandemic ways of working to a 'Living with COVID-19' approach, Breakthrough Nation 2 includes a 10-point plan to apply pandemic learnings and help the UK achieve its healthcare and life sciences ambitions, focused on 5 big ideas:

  • Applying the COVID-19 Mission-led ethos to address other healthcare challenges
  • Delivering a Prevention Revolution to prepare the nation against future health threats
  • Ensuring that No Patient is Left Behind, no matter how rare their condition
  • Setting the UK apart as a Magnet for Global Investment in life sciences
  • Uniting with industry to deliver a Net Zero NHS. 

It’s good to see strong alignment with BIA policies in the document

COVID-19 Antivirals and Therapeutics Taskforce

The COVID-19 Antivirals and Therapeutics Taskforce (ATTF) at the Department of Health and Social Care would like to alert relevant organisations and invite contributions to a piece of work it has been coordinating on COVID-19 therapeutic medicines. The ATTF is currently undertaking a joint piece of work with the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to develop a framework to standardise non-clinical testing of COVID-19 medicines against new COVID-19 variants of concern. This aims to standardise approaches to types and standards of non-clinical data and how this is provided to the MHRA and UKHSA in the event of emerging COVID-19 Variants of Concern to understand their potential impact on therapeutic medicines. The ATTF would like to offer the opportunity for interested pharmaceutical companies to input into the proposed set of standards. The ATTF is aiming to finalise the framework by the end of November, so asks that interested organisations make contact by 25 November to request involvement in this work. If you would like more information please contact [email protected]

Annette England at Windsor

To Edinburgh for bioProcess UK

I will be delighted to see many of you at this year’s bioProcessUK conference in Edinburgh. It’s a great chance to catch up with the community, celebrate success and make and maintain a key professional network. You might be interested in asking Netty England where she was last week!

Steve Bates headshot



Steve Bates OBE
CEO, BioIndustry Association

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CEO Update | 28 November 2022

Thank you to all who have joined our BIA campaign to seek a solution to cuts in SME R&D tax credits introduced in the Autumn Statement. Today I was able to raise our concerns personally by handing a letter signed by over 300 CEOs to the Health Secretary and the Business Secretary at a meeting in Number 10 who assured me that this issue is being taken seriously at the very top of government.

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