CEO Update | 29 November 2021

I’m delighted to finally be able to leave the house today after my period of isolation after a positive COVID-19 test. It was such a shame not to be able to join our bioprocessing community last week for the 18th annual bioProcess UK conference but I have been enjoying looking at the photos from this great event. News over the weekend of the Omnicron variant has led to the postponement of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial meeting in Geneva where waivers on the IP of COVID-19 vaccines were to be discussed, so I’m no longer expecting to see global policy set in Geneva this week.

Stellar Series B round for Quell Therapeutics

It was great to read in today’s Financial Times that Quell Therapeutics who develop CAR-T therapies have raised $156 million in an oversubscribed Series B round. It is particularly pleasing to see such a strong set of global investors back this UK business to scale and see the participation of British Patient Capital’s Future Fund Breakthrough programme supporting a UK life sciences business for the first time, alongside Jeito Capital, Ridgeback Capital Investments, SV Health Investors, Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC and founding investor Syncona. Quell Therapeutics CEO Iain McGill said: “When we set up Quell we wanted to start building a large UK biotech and for the foreseeable future our main activities, including manufacturing, will be in the UK.” Quell plan to manufacture volumes for clinical trials at Guys Hospital and then expand using the facilities at the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult in Stevenage.

MDC and We Share’s Funding Programme is now open for applications

The Medicines Discovery Catapult and We Share are seeking applications from early-stage medicines discovery projects from start-ups across Europe working in the following therapeutic areas: psychiatric disorders, hearing disorders and infections associated with cystic fibrosis. A grant of up to €300,000 is available to support preclinical-stage R&D that has a clear line of sight to patient impact; successful companies will have the opportunity to pay their success forward to support future patient-focused medicines discovery start-ups. Deadline for applications is 31st December 2021. To find out more and apply, visit We Share’s website.

Applications open for Astellas Future Innovator Prize

Astellas Pharma have launched their Future Innovator Prize. Winners will receive one year’s free space for an individual bench at one of Astellas’ facilities nationwide, along with all resident benefits. They will also gain access to Astellas’ R&D capabilities, business leaders, mentors and global network of partner academic institutes and biotechnology companies. For more information and to apply please visit Astellas Pharma website – applications close 06 December.

We are preparing for our next Women in Biotech event next Tuesday and I’m really looking forward to our joint conference with the MHRA next Wednesday – which being virtual neither the weather nor variant developments will be able to stop – I look forward to seeing you there.

Steve Bates OBE
CEO, BioIndustry Association

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