CEO Update | 23 May 2022

BIA celebrates RQ BIO licencing agreement with AstraZeneca

We had fantastic news last week when RQ BIO announced a licencing agreement with AstraZeneca for its portfolio of early-stage monoclonal antibodies targeted against SARS-CoV-2, with the company also emerging from stealth mode on completion of the agreement. RQ BIO is a UK-based biotechnology company focused on developing treatments and preventative therapies based on potent broad-spectrum mAbs to address areas of unmet need in vulnerable patient populations.

RQ BIO’s founders were brought together in March 2020 when the BIA formed the UK BIA Antibody Taskforce, a consortium of biotech companies, academia and charities to identify and develop neutralising antibodies to protect at-risk groups and avoid lockdowns. The UK BIA Antibody Taskforce’s major milestones included developing an accelerated and rigorous approach to creating a pool of over 600 novel candidates and identifying a set of antibodies with the greatest potential in record time. Rather than taking the industry standard 18 months for antibody discovery, the Taskforce did it in less than seven.

So it is great to see a new company emerge through Life Arc’s company building and financing support, with a leadership team that has a strong track record of delivering innovative products and a deep commitment to the UK life sciences and biotech sector. RQ BIO is a true UK success story, innovative science built upon strong collaborations with companies, academia and charities, which the BIA was proud to coalesce resulting in a licencing deal with a key global player (and BIA member) AstraZeneca.

BIA publishes analysis of Innovation Map at Start-up Festival

I was delighted to join over 90 entrepreneurs for the BIA Start-up Festival which provided learning and networking opportunities for those starting and growing their businesses. At the festival, we launched an analysis of the BIA Innovation Map, a key resource for early career biotech and life sciences entrepreneurs, helping them navigate an often-complex environment to source networking and investment opportunities.

Our analysis showed that 63% of programmes are within the Golden Triangle of Oxford, London and Cambridge. By country, 86% of programmes were in England, 9% in Scotland and 5% in Northern Ireland. No programmes were identified in Wales. 52% of programmes offered funding to entrepreneurs, with 78% of those programmes taking no equity, while 68% of programmes offer expertise (mentorship and networking opportunities) and 40% of programmes offer introductions to investors.

Bicycle Therapeutics and IQVIA opening

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I had the pleasure of attending not just one but two, member new build celebrations last week showing how our sector continues to grow and thrive. Bicycle Therapeutics' new labs and offices at Granta Park in Cambridge combine state of the art laboratories with office space designed to inspire collaborative working “like a magnet not via mandate” and it was good to see the team enjoying the new space. Greg Winter made a great speech explaining the company’s science and the journey took so far.

It was great to celebrate the partnership working on the ONS COVID study with IQVIA as they opened their new space in Paddington – auspiciously not only right by the transport hub but a stone’s throw from where Penicillin was discovered by Fleming at St Mary’s Hospital.

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Steve Bates OBE
CEO, BioIndustry Association


More news and updates

UK biotech leaders urge policy makers to boost sector as economic climate worsens

The UK biotech sector has continued to attract investment despite global economic headwinds impacting all sectors, new data published by the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA) and Clarivate shows today (30 June 2022). The data has been published as biotech leaders visit the Houses of Parliament to press policy makers to make the most of the UK’s competitive advantage to be at the forefront of global innovation in the 21st Century. The new data on equity investment in the UK biotech and life sciences sector between March and May 2022 shows £450m was raised, compared to £481m in the first quarter of 2022

CEO Update | 27 June 2022

I was delighted to see the announcement from Moderna that it has chosen the UK to base its mRNA Innovation and Technology Centre and an additional mRNA manufacturing centre. Alongside other recent investments from the likes of Fujifilm and ThermoFisher, the UK is now superbly placed to ensure the next generation of therapeutics and vaccines are developed and manufactured for the globe right here within our world-class ecosystem.

Working with the UK’s rich health data

The UK has rich and diverse health data which provides exceptional opportunities for research and innovation. Despite this opportunity, the transformative potential of health data research is far from being realised in full. Only a fraction of NHS, biomedical and health-relevant data is accessible to inform research. It can take a very long time to apply for data access and have all the relevant approvals, checks and safeguards in place to do the analysis. And once data access is granted, data can of variable quality. Read this blog by Dr James Pickett, Hub Development Manager at HDR UK about creation of large, safe data sharing initiatives across the UK.

UK life sciences sector response to COVID-19 key for Moderna investment

Steve Bates OBE, Chief Executive of the BioIndustry Association and former member of the UK Vaccine Taskforce in 2020 said: “UK innovators look forward to welcoming the Moderna team into our collaborative and capable community.  The UK’s life science ecosystem’s innovation base, with Moderna’s new mRNA Innovation and Technology Centre and additional mRNA manufacturing centre stage, is now superbly placed to ensure the next generation of mRNA technologies, including next generation vaccines, are developed and manufactured for the globe from the UK."