CEO Update | Monday 12 November 2018

This week I am in China with a number of BIA members. This trip is the centrepiece of the BIA’s ramp up of engagement East in 2018. Building on our China Special Interest Group we are seeking to increase the number of UK biotech companies collaborating with, generating revenue from, and receiving investment from the Chinese market.  In Hong Kong I am exploring how we can jointly build the life science analytical capability needed for global liquidity - and make dual listing - or similar - a practical reality for UK companies seeking investment there. With President Trump’s new Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S (CFIUS) regulations applying to Chinese life science investments into the US on deals that close after this weekend, I am also keen to understand their impact real time on Chinese investor appetite for globally relevant non-US biotech opportunities - like the UK.

This week is also world antibiotic awareness week. Research published last week from the OECD shows that antimicrobial resistance is expected to kill in the region of 90,000 people in Britain and 2.4 million people across Europe, North America and Australia by 2050, unless further work is done to combat multi-resistant superbugs. Antimicrobial resistance is a global threat, and one which does not respect boundaries. The BIA recently published an explainer on the topic of antimicrobial resistance, which includes case studies from BIA member companies and the work they are doing to combat the problem. We also produced a video exploring the work of these companies, as part of our Celebrating UK Bioscience series. Be sure to keep up to date on Twitter with #WAAW.

Last week the additional animal research statistics were published on breeding and genotyping of animals for scientific procedures in Great Britain in 2017. These statistics come after stats published in July which showed that 4% fewer animals were used in research in 2017. In total, there were 5.53 million animals used in science in Great Britain in 2017, the vast majority of which were mice (80%), rats (11%) and fish (7%). The report details the numbers of animals used for breeding, procedures and genotyping in Great Britain. 1.81 million animals were bred for scientific procedures but were killed or died without being used in them. There are lots of reasons why these animals could not be used in procedures, for example some animals may be used a source of tissue for further research. It is important to remember the vital role all of these animals play in the scientific process. The BIA is committed to the Concordat on Openness in Research and welcomes the continued transparency in relation to the numbers of animals used in science in Great Britain.  

The BIA Rare Disease Industry Group (RDIG) held a workshop last week to explore the access landscape for rare disease medicines. The RDIG came together following the implementation of changes to NICE’s Highly Specialised Technology (HST) programme for ultra-rare medicines 18 months ago but have since expanded their remit to include orphan medicines that sit just outside the HST criteria. Since the implementation of the changes in April 2017, NICE have published guidance for just two HST products – Strimvelis and Crysvita. During the same time-frame there have been a number of high-profile cases for rare disease medicines not being made available to NHS patients, including Orkambi, which last week the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee launched an inquiry in to. As part of this inquiry, the Committee have taken the unprecedented step of asking NHS England and Vertex to publish their commercial discussions if they cannot agree a deal by the end of the month. At the workshop RDIG members, representatives from patient organisations and clinicians shared their experiences of the current assessment processes for rare and ultra-rare medicines in order to identify challenges and explore alternative options. In addition, the Office for Health economics provided delegates with an overview of the health economics of medicines assessment and explained the limitations of traditional health economic methods for rare conditions. For more information on the BIA RDIG please contact Rachael at  

Next week is another big one for us here at the BIA when we will be holding our annual bioProcess UK conference (ENTER LINK). The conference kicks off on Tuesday 20 November with a drinks reception at Edinburgh Castle. Wednesday begins with a welcome from Colin MacKay from Symbiosis Pharmaceuticals followed by an update from myself. Dave Tudor of GSK, who was recently appointed as Managing Director of the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre, deliver the keynote speech, and the rest of Wednesday’s programme covers a variety of perspectives on manufacturing and the UK ecosystem. We will also be presenting the Peter Dunnill Award and the Richard Wilson Impact award on the day, as well as hosting the poster flash for early career scientists.The conference finishes up on Thursday and there will be plenty of opportunities for further networking and partnering. We hope to see you there. You can follow along with all of the action on Twitter with the hashtag #bioProcessUK.


The BIA’s Manufacturing Advisory Committee (MAC) leadership programme called BIA MAC LeaP will also be a bioprocess. This network brings together next generation leaders to promote cross-sector learning through site visits, develop a network with peers to share best practice and forge relationships to encourage possible future collaborations. The pilot programme was launched in January 2017 with 11 companies participating and is scheduled to complete in January 2019. On the back of the success of this, a second programme is already well underway, starting in January 2018, and a third cohort for January 2019 is already full. You’ll hear more about this at bioProcess UK next week. 



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Steve Bates

Chief Executive Officer


Since his appointment as Chief Executive of the BioIndustry Association in 2012, Steve has led major BIA campaigns for, amongst other things, improved access to finance, the refilling of the Biomedical Catalyst, anti-microbial resistance and the opportunity the sector presents to generalist long term investors. Steve champions the adaptive pathway approach to the licensing of new drugs, the need for Early Access and is particularly proud of the working relationship the BIA has established with the UK’s leading medical research charities.

A founder member of United Life Sciences, a strategic partnership representing over 1000 life science and healthcare member companies across the UK and internationally, Steve attends the UK’s Ministerial Industry Strategy Group, and sits on The Royal Society's Science, Industry and Translation Committee.

Beyond the UK Steve is a member of EuropaBio’s Board and its National Association Council and is a founder member of the International Confederation of Biotech Associations. An expert and regular commentator on the sector in the media and at industry-leading conferences Steve has worked both in biotech (as Senior Director at Genzyme UK and Ireland) and at the highest levels of UK government (as Special Advisor to John Reid, MP, during his time in Tony Blair’s government) for over 15 years. Steve was awarded the OBE in January 2017.