CEO Update - 8 April 2024

A BIA win to get post-Brexit import inspections right for UK life sciences

I don’t always start Newscast with a technical detail – but this one matters and underpins the work of many, many companies in our Association. In short, keep doing your experiments and manufacturing medicines as normal as we work hard to keep your reagents and materials supply chain operating smoothly.

Thanks to BIA representation at all levels of government, and as a result of expert input by key members, Defra has agreed that all intermediate animal by-products, laboratory reagents and derived products for pharmaceutical use, including the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and laboratory reagents, will be treated as low-risk under the new Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) until 31 July 2024. We took action because BIA and our members were concerned that new paperwork and inspections at the border were being implemented too quickly and would result in supply-chain disruption and shortages in the UK.

This is important news for companies that import laboratory reagents and medicines manufacturing materials and should enable the continued operation of our sector for the coming period whilst those involved get into the intricate detail of this most complex post-Brexit issue. We will use this 6-month derogation period to work with members who import laboratory reagents and medicines manufacturing materials to try to get a more proportionate treatment of these products under the new post-Brexit border inspections regime that came into force on 31 January.

Contact [email protected] if you need more information.

Companies moving off AIM shows the vital need for success of the Mansion House agenda

The announcement by member companies Redx Pharma and C4X Discovery of their intention to delist from the AIM market shows the vital importance of continuing the structural reforms needed to get UK investment to support UK life science growth companies. I see their announcements as symptoms of a well-understood problem and the positive news is that we have been working hard on an agenda for change in life science scale-up capital for several years.

However, I am the first to admit that a functioning scale-up capital environment for UK life sciences companies well supported by UK-based investment vehicles is a medium-term goal while companies need to operate in the here and now. I see the Mansion House Compact and its associated reforms continuing to move through 2024 although not at the pace I would prefer. The fact that the UK government have an open consultation on the proposed intermittent trading scheme on the London Stock Exchange for scaling companies is a good example of one of the jigsaw pieces we need in place to deliver the bigger picture of a functioning public market in London for life sciences, significant investment via UK pension houses, and great companies growing to scale from our fantastic ecosystem.

NHS world-first roll out of type 1 diabetes artificial pancreas

The new financial year has enabled the NHS to highlight some of the innovations it will be providing to patients in the coming months. In part, because it is able to take the longer-term view of cost-benefit and has organizations able to direct clinical practice change, the NHS is rolling out artificial pancreas technology across the population in a world first this year. Being a world leader in the uptake of this drug device and artificial intelligence combination is likely to show increased interest in doing research in this area in the UK and I know further pioneering activity can be built on this leadership role.

UK leads the world in conducting country-wide dementia diagnosis blood test trials

I'm also excited to see that two expert research teams, one from University College London and the other from Dementias Platform UK at the University of Oxford, have announced that they will conduct UK-wide clinical trials to identify blood tests to boost dementia diagnosis.

Experts hope that the research will lead to blood tests for diagnosing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia on the NHS within five years.

Timely and accurate diagnosis of the diseases that cause dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, is crucial, as it means people can access vital care and support and take part in medical research.

This will be even more imperative if new treatments such as lecanemab and donanemab are approved for use in the NHS, as these work best for people in the earliest stage of their disease.

It's easy to give the NHS a hard time in areas where uptake is slow but it's equally important for us to celebrate and highlight priority areas where the NHS is working at the forefront of innovation adoption.

Local and mayoral elections mean few government announcements this month

With Westminster in recess and government in a period of “pre-election sensitivity” (yes it’s a thing, read more) we will see few government announcements or parliamentary debates of note until after 4 May. However we keep our eyes and ears open for announcements of note by all the political parties and I was pleased to see the continued prominence and focus on the life science sector's importance in the new Labour Party document focused on devolution Power and Partnership: Labour’s Plan to Power up Britain, it is worth a read.

Innovate UK Executive Chair role open

With Indro Mukerjee stepping away from Innovate UK in September the job advert for his role is now out. Innovate UK play a vital role in our ecosystem and it will be fantastic to have an executive chair with strong knowledge of our sector.

Steve Bates Headshot.png



Steve Bates OBE
CEO, BioIndustry Association

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