CEO Update | Monday 15 March

Positive UK medicine manufacturing news

UK advanced medicine manufacturing capability received a boost last week with a trio of investments. Touchlight and eXmoor pharma received significant investments and GSK announced plans to accelerate its cell and gene therapy pipeline for clinical trials by leveraging the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult capacity in Stevenage. The investment in eXmoor’s cutting edge process development and clinical manufacturing in the South West of England will create long- term, highly-skilled jobs. The investment in Touchlight will give the UK further manufacturing capability in mRNA vaccines and in the innovative field of cell and gene therapies. This news will benefit patients and local economies enormously in the years to come.


Vaccination development continues at pace

More COVID-19 vaccines are hitting key milestones and it was good to see Janssen’s vaccine approved by the EMA for emergency use last week. Sanofi is now also developing an mRNA platform. People will be looking to regulators and healthcare systems for reassurance about the real-world safety and efficacy of the vaccines in use and I look forward to more data being shared and explained in the weeks ahead. This is particularly important as the UK is ramping up the pace of vaccination for working adults in the coming weeks.


Horizon Europe

The UK will be joining Horizon Europe as an Associate Member. This means that UK entities can be part of, and lead consortiums applying for, funding. The European Commission has now published a draft of the Horizon Europe Health Work Programme. This will be helpful for anyone considering putting a bid together.


Women in Biotech goes TransAtlantic

Last week the BIA’s Women in Biotech series innovated yet again to bring together a great TransAtlantic event with our partners at the US-based organisation Women In Bio. I found the discussion by panellists incredibly engaging and thought-provoking as the panel considered how to encourage investors to back female led/founded companies and diverse leadership teams from company inception. I look forward to seeing where this series goes next. Please keep your eyes on our events page for future BIA events.


Record attendance of MPs at Life Sciences APPG

On Wednesday, the BIA organised an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Life Sciences event together with BIVDA and ABPI on the UK’s COVID-19 response. We were delighted to hear from Kate Bingham, Dave Tudor from CPI and Alessandro Carabelli from COG-UK on how our sector has collaborated with the Government, regulators and the NHS to achieve the successful vaccine rollout we see today. They also explored how to build on this positive momentum to enable UK life sciences to grow further. The meeting had a record number of MPs in attendance – a strong signal that Parliamentarians are keen to support and hear more from our sector.


Return of PULSE!

This week, I’m looking forward to hearing from future entrepreneurs and CEOs in our sector as we hold our annual Programme for Up and coming Life Sciences Entrepreneurs (PULSE). PULSE is a three-day leadership and entrepreneurship training programme developed by the BIA and the Francis Crick Institute. Now in its fourth year, this innovative programme continues to provide a fantastic platform for attendees to practise relevant skills and share ideas while receiving expert feedback and advice. For more information on PULSE and BIA work in this area, please contact Sam Cruickshank.

Finally, I’d like to share some sad news; Tim Bonham-Carter has passed away after a long illness. Tim helped create the BIA of which he was the Chair for two years. To read more about Tim’s impact on our industry please read this memorial.


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.