CEO Update | 16 May 2022
BIA response to DWP consultation on facilitating investments in illiquid assets
Last week we gave our response to the Department of Work and Pensions consultation on facilitating investments in illiquid assets. We called on the UK Government to improve transparency in the pensions industry so that pension savers have access to diversified investment strategies benefiting from the wealth-creating opportunities of the UK’s innovative, venture capital-backed industries, including biotech and life sciences, while supporting issues the public care about, like better healthcare and a cleaner environment.
Biotechnology is transforming the world we live in, from better healthcare to products that are kinder on the environment, and UK researchers and companies are leading the world in this exciting new era of innovation. Yet UK pension schemes, especially those operating in the defined contributions market, are not investing in innovative life science and biotech companies, meaning UK pension savers are not benefitting from the UK’s competitive strengths.
Greater transparency will enable UK pension savers to see exactly what their state mandated investment is in. We want schemes to provide a high level of granularity in the classifications used. If a catch all of “illiquid assets” is allowed savers won’t know if their investment is supporting the buy-out of House of Fraser or a spin-out from the University of Manchester developing a cure for childhood leukaemia. This is no big step as Australian pension schemes already report each assets identity to their investors. Greater transparency will enable informed consumer choice to drive greater UK private sector investment into UK life science companies as strong growth opportunities.
New HMT capital allowances
The Treasury has launched a call for views on the UK’s capital allowances schemes, which currently reduce tax liability for companies making capital investments. We will be responding highlighting that loss-making companies do not gain from these schemes and therefore there’s tax no incentive for them to make capital investments that will benefit the UK’s science and manufacturing bases. We will be urging Treasury to include capital expenditure within the R&D tax credits scheme so that loss-making companies can receive the same benefits as larger corporations and are incentivised to invest. The more biotechs that make this point in the consultation the better, so please take 10 minutes to complete the online survey yourself.
Northern Ireland Protocol back on the table
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be heading to Northern Ireland today to address the political stalemate in Stormont in the wake of the assembly elections a few weeks ago. An op-ed in the Belfast Telegraph by the Prime Minister makes clear that his government will introduce legislation to strip away parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol. The Northern Ireland Protocol has been a key focus of the BIA and our members since the Brexit vote in 2016, we have worked closely with both the Government and the EU during negotiations so that they understood the complexities of supplying medicines to Northern Ireland. A deal on medicines was only reached through a spirit of collaboration and understanding that it was patients at the end of supply chains, I urge the PM and government to continue in this manner and not to undo the hard work already done by business and patient groups
BMS pays $200m to expand Evotec alliance on protein degraders
Great news for BIA member Evotec, who have signed an eight year extension with Bristol Myers Squibb to develop a pipeline of molecular glue degraders in a deal worth $200m and with the total value of the deal at a possible $5bn.
Savills conference and report
It was good to attend the Savills Science Conference last Tuesday at the Crick, which was full of property investors excited by the life science opportunity in the UK. With a number of new builds, operators and sites coming on stream in the months and years ahead, I think the chance to revolutionize the property footprint of our sector in the UK is upon us. I enjoyed the discussions with Professor Sir Mark Caulfield, Natalie Harmony, Dr Sally Ann Forsyth OBE and Dr Steve Chatfield. Savill’s and Beauhurst’s new research reports were launched, addressing what’s next for Life Sciences and how this impacts the real estate market. I’m interested to understand members property needs in the coming period so as to help guide new property players interested in facilitating UK start and scale up companies.
Nuffield research placements
The National STEM Learning Network is looking for employers and organisations to offer placement for students this summer. The students we focus on are high-attaining, motivated Y12 students from first in family backgrounds and/or socially and economically disadvantaged families that are on a post-16 education pathway to develop their science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) skills. Students identify four subject areas of interest that they would like to explore via a placement. Once selected for the programme, our Regional Coordinators will act to help match students’ interests to the available project topics.
Start Up Festival
I’m looking forward to our Start-up Festival taking place virtually this week. It is intended for the leadership of early-stage companies to learn from each other and from invited thought leaders in the sector. Expanded to two days, the event will bring together the best of rising talent in the sector for a day of informative sessions designed to build on existing knowledge and allow entrepreneurs to learn from peers and established industry experts alike, followed by a day of 1-2-1 meetings with potential mentors, collaborators and investors. Attendees will be able to connect through the platform with both peers and potential advisors for meetings and informal networking. This event is free to attend however attendance is restricted to attendees from start-up companies, entrepreneurs in the life sciences, and invited industry experts.
Medicine Manufacturing Industry Partnership conference 2022 now open for registrations
The annual MMIP conference will be returning to a face-to-face conference this year. The event will be held at Redworth Hall Hotel near Darlington on the 21 June from 10:00 - 16:00, enabling a visit during that day to either CPI or Fujifilm. MMIP represents the voice of medicines manufacturers in the UK. It was established jointly by the Government and the biopharmaceutical industry in 2014 to ensure that the UK is recognised by the global medicines industry as a world-class advanced centre for medicines manufacturing
Steve Bates OBE
CEO, BioIndustry Association