CEO Update | Monday 11 March 2019

I spent last week at the inaugural WuXi Healthcare Forum in Shanghai, and it proved to be a hugely insightful week, with over 2000 global leaders gathered. I spoke on a panel entitled ‘New Era, Golden Opportunities’ where leaders from China and the UK explored how key stakeholders are redefining the innovation narrative – opening up a new era of opportunities and connecting the global life sciences ecosystem. I also attended the British Consulate-General/BioIndustry Association official reception hosted by John Edwards, HM Consul General in Shanghai and Kevin Holland, Minister Counsellor of Life Sciences and Healthcare at the British Embassy in Beijing. You can read a blog on my thoughts from the forum and the other life sciences developments in China here. The UK’s China life sciences team is touring the UK to explain how to do business in China and you can sign up to their events here.


Back in London, there are now 18 days till Brexit Day.  We continue to highlight to the Government and media how a no-deal Brexit will adversely impact patients, public health and the industry.  Last week the no-deal Statutory Instruments for medicines regulation and clinical trials passed through the House of Lords. Lord Warner put forward the concerns of members on behalf of the BIA, including highlighting how little time there is for industry to implement regulations and guidance in the event of no-deal (catch up here). As Lord Warner highlights “It is very clear that, despite the expertise and professionalism of the MHRA and the industry, they have been left with ludicrously little time to master a massive amount of new detail and system change, particularly as many of the companies in this sector are SMEs. These SIs create a great deal of additional red tape and running costs. They have already taken funding and resources away from research and development, and, as the impact assessments show, this will continue into the future.”


There are a number of opportunities for members and non-members to get further Brexit information in the next few weeks.  Before our Cambridge regional networking lunch this Wednesday, the Government’s Office for Life Sciences will be holding a roundtable for companies. If you would like to attend, please email BIA Brexit Lead Laura Collister. Our next Brexit webinar is on Friday 22, you can register here. Both of these events are open to members and non-members. The next BIA/ABPI Brexit Lead network is on 9 April and is open to members only. We are also striving to keep you all up to date with Brexit via our Brexit portal, which you can access here. It’s a key week in Westminster with lots at stake and next week’s European Council could also prove critical.


We wished the EMA well last week as they started their first official week at their new headquarters in Amsterdam after leaving London. You can take a look at a booklet they have produced here which illustrates the journey medicines take from bench to bedside.


We saw some great member news last week as the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult celebrated the first successful months of its novel apprenticeship programme to secure future skills for advanced therapies. The first cohort of apprentices are embedded at the catapult in seven companies active in the ATMP sector – GlaxoSmithKline, Oxford Biomedica, NHS Blood and Transplant, Autolus, Allergan, Cobra and Replimune – while simultaneously studying Applied Biological Sciences at the University of Kent. This scheme is the brainchild of the advanced therapies manufacturing taskforce and has been driven to success and funding by the BIA’s Manufacturing Committee’s perseverance and creativity over the past three years. With recruitment underway for a senior leader cohort and further cohorts focused on science and regulatory affairs planned for this year, the programme is already delivering on its mission to build the skills base needed to develop a thriving UK ATMP industry. This new apprenticeship programme will be an important part of making sure the UK stays ahead of the curve and maintains its position as a world leader. You can find out more about Cell and Gene Therapy excellence in the UK by taking a look at our explainer on the topic here, and watching our video celebrating some of the BIA members working in this space here. We would encourage you to take a look at these resources this #BritishScienceWeek to see just some of the fantastic science Britain is producing.


We have also released a video highlighting some of the key data in our annual finance report, you can watch it here. 2018 was a fantastic year for UK biotech and we have great confidence that our members will continue to attract confident capital going forward.


We were delighted to welcome delegates to our first Women In Biotech event of the year last Thursday, very fittingly on the eve of International Women’s Day. The topic of discussion for the event was Building A Better Board, and we were delighted to see members enjoyed the panel, the networking and the inspiring discussion. The Scale Up Institute released their ScaleUp Female Founder Index 2019 to celebrate International Women’s Day, which shows that £890m was raised by scale ups with female founders – a 49% increase on last year. They also report on more than 170 scale ups with female founders. You can read their fantastic report here. The Crick, a BIA member, also released a great video celebrating some of the work of their female scientists, which you can watch here.


Innovate UK and the Knowledge Transfer Network will host an event 22 March on Innovation in Medicines Manufacturing through Collaboration, which you can register for here. Throughout the day representatives of Innovate UK and the Knowledge Transfer Network will be available to support companies wanting to discuss their latest innovations. There will be networking time throughout the day as well as bookable 1-2-1 partnering meetings. During the day, delegates will hear from a range of project participants from the first round of the Medicines manufacturing collaborative R+D competition. In addition, there will be an update on recent ISCF investments in enhancing current UK capabilities in medicines manufacturing innovation and sharing what this means for medicines manufacturing in the UK.

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