CEO Update | 25 April 2022
Great to see you all this Spring
It is great to see our ecosystem back out and about in person this Spring – and especially to be joined by 200 colleagues from across the biotech and life sciences sector at our London Regional event last week. The discussion on funding alternatives to IPO for scaling biotechs was both insightful and inspiring and provoked lots more conversations in the vibrant networking that followed.
The UK is a key global hub for biotech and life sciences because our globally renowned research base and well-run companies are being recognised internationally to partner with or invest in.
In 2022 the UK is the place in the world where global biotech capital works hardest. This quarter the UK continues to attract investment because companies engaged in and operating from here, are able to be operationally more efficient than elsewhere in the globe. Key milestones being reached for the UK sector include drug approval (Immunocore’s FDA approval for its T-cell therapy), new companies choosing the UK to base their operations (Eye Bio and Altos Labs) and the recent announcements of laboratory space coming online in former retail and office space (the Clarendon Centre in Oxford and the recent announcement of 750,000 sq ft of lab space at Canary Wharf).
It is because the UK has depth in great science, quality talent, vital genomics and AI capability, modern and growing infrastructure, a competitive tax regime, a collaborative regulator and a proven entrepreneurial track record of being able to do complex things fast – demonstrated by the Vaccine Taskforce way of delivering. This strong base enables UK life science firms to outcompete peers in other clusters.
If you are interested in hearing more about my thinking on the UK biotech financing picture, please do contact Jack Fellows for more information.
WuXi healthcare forum
This is the UK message I’m sharing with a global audience, alongside a showcase of UK companies who will be at this year’s WuXi Healthcare Forum, where thousands of colleagues from around the world will convene again under this year’s theme, “Call To Action,” to support the World Health Organisation’s key initiatives in tackling global health challenges head-on, and to collaboratively advance better healthcare solutions. It is possible to attend online and may be of particular use for companies looking to develop in Asia.
BIA quarterly influence report
We’ve published the BIA quarterly influencing report which gives an overview of key policy developments and the BIA’s continued involvement with policymakers, regulatory authorities and wider stakeholders on behalf of the UK life sciences sector, from January to April 2022. This quarter saw significant BIA’s influencing work come to fruition within Government. The Chancellor’s Spring Statement included an update on the R&D tax reliefs review, confirming that overseas clinical trials will be eligible for relief in line with BIA advice.
The BIA continued to foster government-industry collaboration and represented members’ and the sector’s interests by responding to numerous government reviews and consultations.
Positive COVID-19 news: Valneva approval
It was great to see that Valneva’s COVID-19 vaccines received approval from the MHRA. The UK Vaccine Taskforce identified and promoted this vaccine as a promising candidate early in the pandemic and helped develop and procure in 2020. Despite this vaccine no longer being in the UK’s current deployment, it shows once again the capability in the UK ecosystem to partner, develop, manufacture and take to the approval of novel candidates. Valneva’s multi-modal flexible manufacturing facility in Livingston, Scotland, is well placed to benefit from this news and it brings another tool to the global COVID-19 challenge.
Private Virtual Recruitment Event for Lighthouse Lab workersA key legacy of the pandemic for the UK is a new cohort of experienced laboratory workers and proven innovators, who have delivered in the heat of some of the most testing working conditions of recent times. The Medicines Discovery Catapult will host a private virtual recruitment event tomorrow, Tuesday 26 April, to support the career paths of those that have worked tirelessly through the COVID-19 pandemic at the Alderley Park Lighthouse Lab. If you are an employer in the life sciences industry interested in hiring and/or training scientists and supporting them on their next career step, this event is for you! Registration is free. To secure your company’s branded virtual booth, email [email protected].
Over the past few months, you might have received letters from the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) asking for information on the use of genetic materials and compliance with the Nagoya Protocol. In response, on behalf of members, the BIA sent a letter to OPSS seeking clarification on the broad scope of the request for information and the intent behind it.
We are following closely how the UK government is choosing to implement our country’s obligations under the Nagoya Protocol. Both how due diligence obligations before ‘utilisation’, and the penalties carried out for failure to comply, are national competencies for the UK government post-Brexit. If you have any concerns or views on the Nagoya Protocol and the UK obligations, please reach out to Policy and Public Affairs Manager Linda Bedenik.
Parliamentary Answer by government to TRIPs waiver
This parliamentary question and answer from a UK Department for International Trade (DIT) Minister will be of interest to all who follow the ongoing WTO debate on the TRIP waiver, confirming the Government remains in the same position on this:
“Stephen Farry: To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment has been made of supporting a temporary waiver that includes all forms of intellectual property, including (a) medical tools, (b) treatments and (c) diagnostics on TRIPS at the WTO.”
Answer: Department of International Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt MP: "HM Government remains open to initiatives that could help with equitable vaccine distribution and their prompt administration. However, there is no evidence that waiving intellectual property protections would advance this objective. Rather, it would dismantle the framework which has and will continue to develop COVID-19 products, like vaccines, which are positively contributing to the global pandemic response, enabling vaccination of key workers like transport workers and medical staff both domestically and internationally."
Oxford Dads supporting Ukraine
Former BIA Board member Steve Harris is working with some other Oxford dads to take medical supplies to Ukraine and bring back families that have been granted UK visas. They are using minibuses borrowed from local schools and are getting volunteers to drive the supplies to refugee camps on the Polish border with Ukraine. Steve is seeking access to more medical supplies to take on the outward trip. The camps have asked for:
- Hygiene & sanitary products for babies and mothers and nappies of all sizes.
- Thermometers, Surgical equipment and gowns, etc.
- Bandages of all types, Tourniquets, etc.
- Tracheostomy sets, Catheters, Syringes, etc.
- Adrenaline, Insulin, Paracetamol, etc.
- Stretchers, Ventilators, etc.
If you can help please get in touch and I can put you in touch with Steve.
Steve Bates OBE
CEO, BioIndustry Association
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