CEO Update | 30 January 2023
The end of January is always incredibly busy at the BIA, with our first Board meeting of the year welcoming newly elected members, the publication of our annual report into the financing of the sector and of course our Gala Dinner which was a great evening last week.
R&D tax credit campaign at centre of finance work
The central topic of discussion at the BIA Board meeting was our ongoing campaign to ensure changes to the R&D tax credit system don’t adversely affect UK knowledge-intensive SMEs. It was good to see supportive (and well-known) voices advocating the arguments we have articulated in the FT and the Times.
Chancellors’ growth speech
It was also good to see that the Chancellor of the Exchequer continued to put life sciences at the front and centre of his speech on growing the UK economy at Bloomberg on Friday citing the fact that we have the largest life sciences sector in Europe and every one of the world’s top 25 biopharmaceutical firms has operations in the UK. His central pitch was this: “I want you to help turn the UK into the world’s next Silicon Valley. If anyone is thinking of starting or investing in an innovation or technology-centred business, I want them to do it here [in the UK]. I want the world’s tech entrepreneurs, life science innovators and green tech companies to come to the UK because it offers the best possible place to make their visions happen. And if you do, we will put at your service, not just British ingenuity, but British universities to fuel your innovation, Britain’s financial sector to fund it and a British government that will back you to the hilt.”
I hope we see this commitment backed by practical measures in the Budget in March and between now and then I expect an intense period of engagement that can make a difference to our sector.
It was also good to see the Chancellor reflecting several of the messages that we’ve been working on as part of the longer-term Life Science Scale-up Taskforce – about linking the City of London to the UK’s growth sectors to get productive finance into our life science sector and taking an appropriate approach to risk for growth – inspired by the approach of the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce.
He said: “The capability of the City of London, combined with the research strengths of our universities, makes our aspiration to be a technology superpower not just ambitious but achievable - and today I am here to say the government is determined to make it happen. Our attitude to risk in this country can still be too cautious compared to our US friends. But we are capable of smart risking in this country: at the start of the pandemic we bought over 350 million doses of vaccine without knowing if they would actually work - and ended up with one of the fastest and most effective vaccine programmes in the world.”
Your help needed before Budget
We will need the expertise and engagement of members over the next six weeks on these issues, so please stand ready to sign letters, join meetings or share expertise with the Whitehall community – at short notice, something I know many of you have been doing in recent weeks.
Equally useful for me is that if you are picking up insight in your own meetings please share it with us – we also have briefings on key topics ready to go for members and are happy to share in what is a dynamic environment.
Last week, the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP) published “Delivering the UK’s Life Sciences Manufacturing Strategy”, a new report highlighting recent UK successes in supplying high-value medicines and in advanced therapies manufacture that must be built on if the UK is to win the global battle to attract commercial medicines manufacturing and reverse the loss of a major UK export industry.
The report shows that medicines and medical technology manufacturing currently deliver annual exports worth over £30 billion for the UK, on top of making a £32.1 billion (gross value added or GVA) contribution to UK economic output in 2019. This is the largest GVA contribution from the life sciences sector. The UK has productive life sciences manufacturing clusters and recent significant investments made by companies in the UK show the value of the sector for regional economic development. It was good to see strong media pick up of this report too, and the policy linkages across our sector between different facets of our membership.
MHRA Reliance Procedure announcement
The MHRA announced last week that a new international recognition framework for marketing authorisations of medicines will be in place to replace the European Commission Decision Reliance Procedure (ECDRP) from 1 January 2024. This means applications with an EMA’s CHMP positive opinion received after 31 December 2023 will be eligible under the new framework. Moreover, the MHRA aims to extend the countries whose assessments they will take account of, increasing routes to market in the UK. This provides much-needed clarity to our member companies to inform their regulatory strategy and plan their submissions in the coming year.
We're looking forward to working with the MHRA on developing the transition arrangements and guidance about this new framework.
I’m looking forward this week to the first in a series of meetings with Ministers and industry about the future of the UK’s Voluntary Pricing and Access Sheme (VPAS). I hope the perspective of innovative companies will be of value to the discussion – it is vital that the UK continues to be a first-launch market with the benefits that it brings to NHS patients and the innovation ecosystem as a whole.
Have a great week.
Steve Bates OBE
CEO, BioIndustry Association