CEO Update | 22 November 2021

I’m really disappointed that a positive COVID test and self isolation period means I will miss both bioProcessUK conference and the official opening of AstraZeneca’s R&D HQ in Cambridge this week - two events I was really looking forward to. I do plan to participate in the UK  Government's Life Science Council as it is a virtual meeting this time around.

State equity investment in our sector is delivering a return to taxpayers 

I was very pleased to read the latest annual report from British Patient Capital showing that the UK Government’s increased participation in the venture capital markets is delivering positive returns for taxpayers, showing the attractiveness of the asset class, and our sector in particular. Commitments to the life sciences have reached more than £150 million via five fund investments. Initiatives launched over the past few years, which the BIA has had a hand in shaping, such as the Life Sciences Investment Programme and Future Fund: Breakthrough, are aimed at leveraging further investment from UK institutions. This is also the focus of the Scale-UP Taskforce we are working on in tandem with the Government, and which I hope to be able to update you on in the coming weeks.

Prior Information Notice for Antiviral Drug Supply to treat and prevent COVID-19

The UK Antivirals Taskforce is seeking to build a diverse portfolio of antiviral candidates for future deployment in the UK healthcare system. The purpose of this Prior Information Notice (PIN) is to assess and understand the COVID-19 antivirals market by gathering information through market engagement and to gain a more detailed understanding of the market. 

The market engagement will take the form of two webinars held tomorrow Tuesday 23rd November 2021 and next week Wednesday 1st December 2021. These government organised webinars will take interested suppliers through the requirement outlined in this PIN and will provide an opportunity for suppliers to ask questions. Both webinars will cover the same content. To sign up to join either webinar please visit Eventbrite. The taskforce is inviting suppliers to register their interest in the PIN by downloading a questionnaire via the Atamis platform, and sending a completed version to ATF-PIN@dhsc.gov.uk by 13:00 on 22nd December 2021.

Whole Genome Sequencing data (WGS) on 200,000 UK Biobank participants available

Thanks to the unique partnership between Amgen, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Johnson & Johnson, alongside Wellcome and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) the first 200,000 WGS has now been completed. Sequencing has been carried out by deCODEGenetics and the Wellcome Sanger Institute and is now available to researchers through the recently launched Research Analysis Platform. This is a momentous achievement, making it the largest single release of WGS data in the world. This data will add to the already rich UK genomics ecosystem in the UK, highlighted in our genomics nation report this year.

Feedback on Our Future Health TRE development

Our Future Health is the UK’s exciting new cohort study set to rival UKBiobank. It will be the UK’s largest health research programme, collecting information from millions of volunteers across the UK to create one of the most detailed pictures we’ve ever had of people’s health. The team are currently planning their TRE development and have issued a survey – please do complete the survey and contact Emma Lawrence for more information.

Steve Bates OBE
CEO, BioIndustry Association