CEO Update | Monday 13 July 2020

AMR Action Fund

I was delighted to attend the launch of a $1 billion Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Action Fund, which aims to support vital research which hopes to bring two to four new antibiotics to market by 2030. The fund will be available to UK small and medium sized companies seeking to develop new antibiotics, those in this field will be able to apply this autumn. Find out more about the fund here.

AMR is one of the key global challenges of our times. Despite being a global health (and BIA) policy focus for years, no market solution has yet delivered the necessary incentives to make novel antibiotic development an attractive investment prospect. Our industry has great capacity to deliver the innovation needed and this new fund provides a great new opportunity for UK biotech entrepreneurs.

But more needs to be done on market-based AMR reforms - like pull incentives and changed reimbursement rules to revitalise the antibiotics markets and drive sustainable investment in antibiotic R&D. That is why the BIA looks forward to taking an active part in the broad alliance launched by this initiative and encouraging governments to create a sustainable AMR development and usage environment.


Big Brexit week ahead  

It’s a “get ready for end of transition” week in the Government’s grid and over the weekend, Michael Gove announced a £750m investment in building port and inland infrastructure, in preparation for the transition period ending on 31 December 2020. It is believed that under the plans, new border posts will be created inland where existing ports have no room to expand to cope with the extra checks that will be required. Today details of how the immigration system will operate have been unveiled, and I’d be unsurprised to see further announcements in the coming days.

I will endeavour to summarise the latest news and seek feedback at our Brexit Briefing Webinar this Thursday, focusing on the implications of government policy for life sciences companies, and the workings of the Northern Ireland protocol. Register here. You can also visit our dedicated microsite to view all the information and guidance for the sector.


Summer Economic Statement

The Chancellor’s statement on Wednesday focussed on the hospitality and other sectors worst hit by the lockdown. However, we learnt that businesses, including those in life sciences, can claim £1000 for every employee they bring back from furlough and employ into next year. Businesses will also be able to access financial support to take on apprentices. The Chancellor did say that measures to support the longer-term recovery will be presented in a Budget and a Spending Review in the autumn. We are in conversation with the Treasury about what such measures could look like, including improvements to R&D tax credits and other investment incentives.


BIA quarterly report

Today we have published our latest quarterly report which gives an overview of key policy developments and the BIA’s continued engagement with policymakers, regulatory authorities and wider stakeholders on behalf of the UK life sciences sector, from April to July 2020. It has been a very busy quarter and thank you so much to members and the team who have advocated our sector’s position on such a range of issues.


PharmaScan updates

UK PharmaScan, a commonly used database of information on new medicines, indications and formulations in the pharmaceutical pipeline has undergone a few notable website changes. For users, data entry requirements remain the same. However, you should notice much improved presentation and functionality across the site. The UK PharmaScan information leaflet has also been updated to align with the website.


Virtual MMIP event Wednesday and Biocentury webinar next week

This Wednesday we, as part of  the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP), are holding an interactive webinar which will provide updates from several of the UK centres of manufacturing innovation, review progress through the MMIP workstreams, and look to the future strategy for supporting medicines manufacturing in the UK. I’m particularly looking forward to the afternoon session on COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing with guests from the Government Vaccine Taskforce, Innovate UK, CPI, University of Oxford, Cobra Biologics, and AstraZeneca. Sign up here.

On the 23 July we are hosting a joint webinar with BioCentury to discuss the findings from a recent BioCentury/BIA survey of UK biotechs, and looking at the outlook for company building in a COVID-19 world. Register here.

Finally, I would like to remind you that applications for our Charity Partnership of the Year 2021 close this Friday 17 July. Find out more and apply here.



Steve Bates

Chief Executive Officer


Steve Bates has been the CEO of the UK Bioindustry Association since 2012. He currently chairs the International Council of Biotech Associations and has been a Board member of Europabio since 2015. Steve is the visible face of the vibrant UK life sciences industry to government and media. He sits on the UK’s Life Sciences Council and Life Sciences Industrial Strategy Implementation Board. Steve has championed with government effective industrial incentives like the Biomedical Cataylst which have crowded-in private sector investment into UK SMES. He has forged links for the sector across the USA, Europe and in China. In his time at the BIA Steve has developed new member groups focused on cell and gene therapy, genomics and engineered biology. A strong advocate of partnership working, Steve champions sector collaboration with research charities and academia. Proud to lead an organisation with a diverse Board with over 40% female representation, Steve is committed to next generation talent and developing the skills needed for the sector to flourish. Before the BIA, Steve worked for Genzyme and as an advisor to the UK Government of Tony Blair. He was made OBE for services to innovation in 2017.