CEO Update | Monday 18 March 2019

An interesting first at the WHO this week as it convenes its first expert advisory committee on developing global standards for the governance and oversight of human genome editing. I’ve pulled some thoughts together on it, the Nature letter that made headlines last week and a UK perspective in a blog post here.


Parliament will again focus on Brexit this week, in the run up to the European Council meeting on Thursday and Friday. There may, or may not, be another parliamentary vote ahead of the discussion on Thursday where the Prime Minister is expected to ask for an extension to the Article 50 period.


Given the ongoing uncertainty at Westminster, combined with the fact that any extension needs unanimity from the EU 27 we have been asked by the Department of Health to ensure that members know that they should continue to prepare for a no deal Brexit on 29 March until that is legally ruled out.


Planning for a fundamental change, that this week seems politically less likely than last week, but could still happen in the next fortnight, is extremely difficult for business planning and contingency to say the least. I am as frustrated by this as you are. 


We will continue to share with members any relevant Government updates on how they plan to operate in a no deal scenario – especially on medicines regulation and supply contingency (ferries) measures. However, we may be in a scenario where this work is either delayed – for a period of weeks, or months – or put in the dustbin, by the end of the week.


We’ll try our best to summarise and synthesise all this into our next Brexit webinar this coming Friday at 4pm. You can register here. The next BIA/ABPI Brexit Lead Network for members is on 9 April – if you are a member of the BIA or ABPI you can sign up here.


In simpler news, this week at the BIA we welcome up-and-coming life sciences entrepreneurs to The Crick for our PULSE programme – a workshop and networking event designed to encourage innovative entrepreneurs to develop their life science business ideas. The programme started last year and proved to be a great success and we’re thrilled to welcome a new group this year. While places on the workshops are full, if you’d like to come along, you can join us for a networking drinks reception tomorrow, Tuesday evening. You can register here.


Tomorrow I will be heading along to the DIT roadshow which is the next meeting of our China Special Interest Group. I wrote last week about my recent experience at the WuXi Healthcare Forum in Shanghai and the BIA is committed to make developing relationships and business in China easier for members through 2019. 


I was delighted to leaf through the Sunday Times at the weekend and take a look at the Maserati 100, 2019’s list of 100 innovative entrepreneurs as introduced by Andrew Lynch. It was fantastic to see the range of innovative companies and a strong representation of life science-based companies, which of course contained lots of our members.