CEO Update | 27 March 2023
Clinical Trials in the UK – the way forward
The UK Government published last week the long-awaited response to the consultation on proposals to improve the UK clinical trials legislation, with a foreword by life science champions Sir John Bell and Sir Jon Symonds.
These reforms represent the biggest overhaul in UK clinical trials regulation in over 20 years and will make the UK one of the best countries to conduct clinical research for the benefit of patients and the life sciences sector. We are pleased that the MHRA have taken on board our comments in the BIA response, and the consultation outcome is very much welcomed by our member companies. It is important that the introduction of a more streamlined and flexible regulatory regime for clinical trial approvals is accompanied by improved efficiency in setting up NHS sites. We as an Association look forward to the implementation of the new legislative measures and working with the MHRA and stakeholder groups on the development of guidance to help with the interpretation of the requirements.
These legislative and administrative changes are aligned with the review of clinical trials led by Lord O’Shaughnessy to which BIA has contributed, and come after the government announced £10 million funding to the MHRA in the Budget to accelerate the delivery of cutting-edge treatments including cancer vaccines.
With the MHRA now having much greater clarity from government on what it should focus on, clarity on regulatory regime for medicine for Northern Ireland and a legislative roadmap forward I believe the Agency can now focus on what it does best, with the heat of the Brexit debate dissipating after many years of politically driven uncertainty.
I’m looking forward to seeing many of you in Harwell for our Regional focus in Oxford tomorrow. It’s a part of our ecosystem that is going great guns, with many new companies and locations for life science emerging. I’m looking forward to understanding how companies have found their way through the challenges of 2023 and I will share how we at the BIA have navigated the R&D tax credit issue and the near-death experience that resulted in the sale of Silicon Valley Bank UK to HSBC. But most of all I know we will all value catching up for networking in person.
SVB Collapse scrutiny in UK Parliament
The UK Parliament is taking evidence on what happened in the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) UK episode via a special non-inquiry special of the Treasury select committee tomorrow. Up in front of the committee are Andrew Bailey, the Governor at Bank of England, and Sam Woods, the Chief Executive Officer at Prudential Regulation Authority. Ahead of the session, the Committee published correspondence from the Bank of England and the Government on SVB UK’s collapse, which give a fuller picture of what was happening on that fateful weekend, including how SVB UK was supervised before its collapse, how HSBC was chosen as a purchaser and what lessons can be learnt about the regulation of the banking sector.
The Bank’s evidence to the committee puts into the public domain for the first time the pace and scale of the run on SVB UK on Friday 10 March. At close of business on Thursday 9 March 2023, SVB UK deposit book was £9,595 million. At 9 am on Friday 10 March 2023, it was £9,226 million, by 13:30 10 March 2023 it was £7,865 million, by 15 pm on 10 March 2023 it was £7,587 million and by close of business on 10 March it was £6,688 million. It was of course late that evening that the Bank of England stepped in.
The Economic Secretary to the Treasury will be asked by parliament whether the Treasury sought assurances from HSBC on its approach to the UK tech and life science industry as a condition of the purchase. And although I expect this session to focus largely on banking regulation it may give clues to recommendations for banking policy that could affect our sector going forward. At the same time, I am ensuring we have a clear view as to how the collapse of the SVB in the USA is being handled and what implications that has for our sector.
It was terrific to meet the next generation of life science entrepreneurs at our PULSE event last week. I was heartened to get feedback from the BIA mentors about the strength and commercial acumen exhibited by this 6th cohort and it's always great to partner with the Crick on this. If you are setting out on your UK entrepreneurial career in life science and are thinking about what courses and programs there are and might suit you – do check out our Innovation Map to what’s available. And don’t worry PULSE is already being planned for 2024, if you want to take part next year.
Lots of BIA publications this week
Keep an eye on our socials this week as it is likely to be a heavy one with publications – we have launched our Diversity and Inclusion in Biotech report and help those thinking through plans for new labs and offices. I’ll update you fully next Monday.
Steve Bates OBE
CEO, BioIndustry Association