CEO Update | 30 May 2022

Royal celebrations advance UK life science

As we celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee it was great to see the King and Queen of Sweden visiting AstraZeneca in Cambridge last week. The visit provided the platform for the UK government to sign its first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Sweden regarding life sciences. The MoU promises to lead to "enhancing cooperation between our governments and to galvanise our life sciences ecosystems in working together on our shared strengths and common priorities, covering fields from precision medicine, clinical trials, pandemic preparedness and antimicrobial resistance to sustainability, trade, and investment for the sector."

I was particularly pleased to see that "cooperation in the research, development, evaluation and implementation of new technologies and treatments" was included in the deal, especially as the UK government will have to take a view in the coming weeks on how to handle some of the outstanding issues unresolved from Brexit, especially long term batch testing policy, which needs to be communicated before the end of the standstill period at the end of this year. It will be an early opportunity for the UK government to build on this MoU, support the UK Life Sciences Vision and take a view on how best to maintain globally harmonised standards our industry relies on to speedily deliver innovation.

Hosting the Royal Party, AstraZeneca’s Sir Mene Pangalos said: “It was a privilege to show the king and queen our cutting-edge science, including organ chips, advanced integrated imaging, augmented lab technology and cellular heartbeats. They also heard from colleagues who played a crucial role in the COVID-19 pandemic, including how we developed the vaccine and our preventative antibody therapy, Evusheld.”

Submission to the Treasury Select Committee on venture capital

The BIA continues to make the case to the UK government about the need for innovative biotech companies to access capital from UK institutional investors, as we did last week in our submission to the Treasury Select Committee on their inquiry on venture capital (VC).

In our submission, we share data showing the positive levels of VC investment into the sector in recent years but warn that a lack of UK VC funds poses a threat to the long-term sustainability of the life sciences sector in the UK. We recommend a new scheme to bring together UK institutional investors and VC funds to facilitate fund creation and greater levels of investment. 

New High Potential Visa route open to the UK; Scale-Up visa to come later in the year

As part of the ongoing UK immigration policy refresh, which has seen more visas issued to migrants in the last year than at any time in recent history, the UK government launched today the High Potential Individual (HPI) route to the UK. This is intended to attract those at the early stages of their careers, who demonstrate exceptional promise, providing a highly desirable and able pool of mobile talent from which UK employers can recruit. Successful applicants will be given a two-year work visa (three-year for those with a PhD) and will be permitted to move into other long-term employment routes.

From 30 May 2022, one can apply for the HPI route if one has graduated from an eligible international University in the five years immediately before the application. There is no need to have a job offer to apply, visit  gov.uk to see the eligible international universities for the last 6 years. The Scale-Up visa scheme aimed at growing companies is also due for launch later in the year. I am interested to hear member company experience whether this scheme is proving beneficial for our sector.

China Webinar and launch of Summer Party

The BIA summer calendar continues at pace, last week we held a BIA China Special Interest Group webinar providing an update on the China biopharma landscape and partnering opportunities. The webinar was very well attended, illustrating the keen interest our members have in collaborating and doing business with Chinese companies giving members and the sector opportunities to network with their peers.

We are also looking forward to our Summer Party in the Gherkin, on Thursday 14 July, with a spectacular sunset over the City as your backdrop and 360-degree views across London, we know you will be wowed!

MHRA launches the Northern Ireland MHRA Authorised Route guidance

The MHRA has provided guidance for key stakeholders in the medicines supply chain to facilitate their use of the Northern Ireland MHRA Authorised Route regulatory route for the continued supply of Great Britain licensed medicines to Northern Ireland.

Sosei Heptares Expands UK R&D Operations to Second Site within Granta Park

More great news for the UK sector is that BIA member Sosei Hepatres announced plans last week that they are expanding their UK R&D operations into a second site within Granta Park, Cambridge, to The Cori Building, previously occupied by Cancer Research UK.

BIA is going to BIO!

I’m looking forward to the BIO conference in San Diego next month – lookout for more on the UK presence there in next week’s Newscast and on our social media.

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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." 

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