CEO Update | Monday 18 January

Virtual J.P. Morgan week kicked off the year which felt very different to the traditional scrum with life sciences colleagues in and around downtown San Francisco...

J.P. Morgan had the traditional key sector announcements and the Sanofi-Kymab deal ensured the UK biotech and life sciences sector was up in lights. Much of the talk was on the implications of Eli Lilly's positive Phase II trial data for Donanemab in Alzheimer's Disease. The Alliance for Regenerative Medicine (ARM)’s annual state of the industry briefing highlighted strong global growth in cell and gene therapy worldwide. Grail committed to launch its Galleri diagnostic tool in the UK at some point in 2021 as a simple blood test that can screen for dozens of cancers at once, building on the deal it announced with the NHS in November. There has been speculation in the life sciences ecosystem about whether COVID-19 will lead to a permanent change of venue for the year-opener in future. Let me know your views on this.


BIO CEO & Investor Digital Conference

If you want to keep up on the latest Stateside, the BIO CEO & Investor Digital Conference is taking place February 16-18.The event will showcase the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO)’s perspective on the new U.S. Congressional agenda, biotech IPOs and discuss the hottest clinical developments and industry catalysts. BIA members are entitled to a 20% discount using the code BIOCEO17.


COVID-19 vaccine developments

This week I’ve stepped down from the Government’s Vaccine Taskforce Steering Board. It is now a fully scaled organisation, delivering for the NHS with a long-term plan published and its recommendations are with the Prime Minister. I’m proud to have led the effective engagement of our industry into such a vital task and will continue to support its work as a member of the Life Sciences Council. The deployment of vaccines is ramping up across the UK with the next cohort of the population being called in for their jabs.   

It was encouraging to hear Nadhim Zahawi MP, Minister for COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment tell the Science and Technology Select Committee that individuals working in the vaccine manufacturing supply chain should be vaccinated as a priority, in order to prevent disruption to vaccine roll-out.  


Other COVID-19 treatments

Fantastic to see Synairgen’s innovative COVID-19 treatment enter a large-scale trial, beginning here in the UK. The treatment involves inhaling a protein called interferon beta, which the body produces in response to a viral infection. Early findings suggest that the treatment cuts the odds of a COVID-19 patient in hospital from developing severe disease - such as requiring ventilation - by almost 80%.


Brexit Lead Network

The BIA and ABPI will hold a special Brexit Lead Network on the morning of 28 January to review the outcome of the Brexit deal for the life sciences sector and to begin to explore what comes next. We will be joined by government experts on the detail of the deal, as well as issues such as supply and regulation. As with previous meetings, this event is for members of ABPI and/or BIA and is intended for those leading Brexit activity within companies. Sign up here. We have recently published a blog on what the UK-EU trade and cooperation agreement means for medicine regulation, read it here.


BIA regional event

This week I am looking forward to the BIA’s first regional event of the year which will look at how the North West of England is emerging as a centre for disease preparedness. We will hear from several organisations at the cutting edge of these developments including Evotec, Infex Therapeutics, and Yourgene. I hope to see you there, register 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.