CEO Update | Monday 09 September 2019

The BIA has signed a major deal in China, enabling UK life sciences companies to gain an effective first landing place in this exciting and innovative market. 

Chair of the BIA, Dr Jane Osbourn OBE attended the opening ceremony of the Wuxi International Life-Science Innovation Campus (I-Campus), where a memorandum of understanding was signed between the I-campus, the BIA and AstraZeneca. This is a key initiative for the BIA to make it easier for UK life sciences SMEs to do business in China.

The opening of the Wuxi I-campus will do much to de-risk and de-mystify China for UK companies. Wuxi is a city renowned for manufacturing and being at the centre of the ‘internet of things’ in China. The I-campus will build on Wuxi’s innovation heritage and be a significant launch pad for UK biotech companies looking to expand and collaborate in China. Please look at our press release for more details on the range of China opportunities for BIA members.

This morning it was announced that RT Ventures will be building a viral vector facility in the UK, where they will manufacture in-licenced academic Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products. BIA member company, eXmoor will design the facility for RT and support their product development work from eXmoor’s Bristol labs. Read their press release here.

Last week saw many great announcements coming out of the sector. The NHS announced that it will be providing cell and gene therapies to treat patients with inherited retinal dystrophies.

For me, this announcement shows that the NHS has moved to a position of consistently supporting the rapid adoption of cell and gene therapies. Patients are starting to see the benefit of years of research and development by innovative companies. Supported by the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy – for which the BIA advocated - the NHS is finding the space to pioneer a clear, consistent approach to getting life changing therapies to patients.

The UK life sciences sector is at the forefront of advanced therapies and can invent, trial, develop, manufacture and market next generation medicines and therapies, at pace. To see more of this innovative therapy area, please watch our cell and gene explainer video and read our recent report with the Alliance of Regenerative Medicines (ARM) here.

I have deliberately kept the politics till the end of this blog. As British Prime Minister Harold Wilson famously said: “a week is a long time in politics”. I’m sure current Prime Minster Boris Johnson would agree. In one week, the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament, lost his majority in the House of Commons, sacked several prominent Conservative backbenchers and had the Parliamentary timetable taken away from him as Parliament agreed to a cross-party approach to blocking a no-deal Brexit. 

These are extraordinary and unprecedented times. On Friday we released our latest Brexit webinar. Here I went through all the latest parliamentary shenanigans and the key information that companies need to be aware of for Brexit planning. To view the webinar please follow this link.

Finally, the Chancellor made his Spending Round announcement last week, the major take away was the Chancellor’s confirmation that the new administration is committed to raising R&D investment to 2.4% of GDP. To read more of the BIA’s reaction to the Spending Round please follow this link.