CEO Update - 20 November 2023

Globe in London for Life Sciences Week

London Life Sciences Week last week had an amazing buzz! I think there were more Americans in life science over for one week than I’ve ever experienced – centred on the Jefferies Healthcare Conference. At the same time, London was also full of Europeans at events like the Scrip Awards, where Jeremy Levin received the Lifetime Achievement Award and gave an impactful speech. The connectivity was immense with a massive range of events that were really vibrant, diverse and inclusive, including our event with BioCentury and law firm drinks (I can see why Informa have bought the LSX brand).

Steve Bates at BioCentury/BIA event


I got so much business done in London that I now don’t feel the need to go to San Francisco to be ripped off and scared on the street for a week in January. And what’s more, all of this was self-organised without a government subsidy or speaker in sight.   

For my money, the best party of the week was HSBC Innovation Banking announcing themselves as a key player post-Silicon Valley Bank at the Sky Garden, in style. Read my reflections on London Life Sciences Week's events

So here’s looking forward to London Life Sciences Week in November 2024 – the BIA commits to being your guide to the hottest agendas in town.

Government reshuffle, George Freeman leaving and BIA to meet new Ministers at Life Science Council

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reshuffled his government last week and, although the headlines were taken by the return of former PM David Cameron as Foreign Secretary (for those with long memories you may recall him at BIO in 2017 championing our sector), other changes are likely to be more significant. George Freeman has decided to leave government and is a sad loss as Minister of State for Science, Research and Innovation. He has long been an informed champion of our sector.

Congratulations to Victoria Atkins as the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. We worked closely with her during her time at HM Treasurey on the R&D tax credit issue. George’s replacement at DSIT is Andrew Griffith with whom we worked closely on the Silicon Valley Bank rescue earlier this year.

Read our updated guide to the Government – providing insight into what the changes mean for our sector.

I’m looking forward to meeting the new team and presenting the opportunity of our sector as an engine of economic growth at the Life Science Council which meets this week.   

Autumn Statement this Wednesday, £520 million for life science manufacturing and BIA webinar Friday

The Chancellor delivers his Autumn Statement to parliament this Wednesday which will set out the economic priorities for the coming months. Given the desire for growth, I’m hopeful for progress on many fronts that the BIA has campaigned on. We’ll update you on what happens at our webinar on Friday – register now.

It’s great news already to see £520 million announced for life sciences manufacturing. This will enable the UK to win a significant part of the global next-generation medicine manufacturing market in technologies like mRNA and CRISPR. Capitalising on the UK’s world-leading research and development, this investment will create well-paid jobs and generate export revenue by supplying the rapidly expanding global healthcare market.

In addition, we hope to see progress on our agenda to get UK pensions investing in productive and growing parts of the UK economy – like life sciences. As part of the push I joined the Capital Market Industry Taskforce in making the case to the Chancellor for doubling down on this agenda

ABPI agree new VPAS deal 2024-2028

The ABPI board has voted on a Heads of Agreement for a new Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing, Access and Growth (VPAG), which will be available for companies that sell licensed products in the UK to join between 2024 and 2028. More details can be found in the summary heads of agreement and in this ABPI supporting information pack. BIA members will be able to join the ABPI webinar tomorrow and in the coming weeks which will explain the details of how this will operate. Well done to the ABPI team and negotiators for concluding what has been a tough deal to get across the line but will provide market stability and some growth for our sector in the years ahead.


Steve Bates Headshot.png



Steve Bates OBE
CEO, BioIndustry Association

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