CEO Update | Monday 27 January 2020

The launch of our annual finance report: ‘Global and growing: UK biotech financing in 2019’ was well received by members and the media.  The report shows that the UK biotech sector is heading into the new decade in a very strong position.


2019 was the third best year recorded by the BIA and the fifth consecutive year in which more than £1bn was raised. We have seen a drop in investment globally, across all countries and sectors but it’s clear that UK biotech companies remain an attractive investment opportunity for global investors.


Highlights of: ‘Global and growing: UK biotech financing in 2019’:

  • A total of £1.3bn was raised by UK-based biotech companies in 2019
  • Over £679m was raised in venture capital, £64m was raised in Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) and £596m in all other public financings
  • The sector has enjoyed five consecutive years of raising over £1billion of investment
  • The UK remains the leading cluster in Europe for amounts raised through venture capital, accounting for a quarter (26%) of the continent’s total
  • Long term growth of over 400% since 2012 has cemented the UK’s position as the third global life sciences cluster

Please share the news, we’ve created an animation which you can share in your feeds here.

The report had great pickup in the papers including in The Telegraph, The Times, and The Wall Street Journal. I was also on Sky News with Ian King for a few minutes before being bumped by Prince Charles speaking live at Davos – despite biotech being the crown jewel of the UK economy, of course the future King took precedence.

It was great to hear Nadhim Zahawi MP, the Minister for Business and Industry, reflect the key messages from our finance report in his speech at our Gala Dinner last Thursday. Nadhim highlighted the importance of partnership between government and industry to strengthen our position as a global hub for life sciences.

The BIA will continue to press government to create a supportive environment for UK biotech and engage the domestic investor base to help them see the real value in investing in biotech.

You can read about our other lobbying work in our latest quarterly report, which covers the December General Election, our engagement with the new Government, the evolving Brexit discussions and much more. The report was published today and is available here.

During the Gala Dinner the BIA formally launched its Charity Partnership of the Year with Versus Arthritis. It was inspiring to hear from Patient Insight Partner, Dr Jane Taylor, on her experience on living with arthritis. The Gala Dinner is always a highlight, it was great to see you all and I hope to see you again next year.

We held a China-themed event preceding the dinner for those thinking about growing their business in the Far East. I was joined by a stellar panel of speakers from companies that have experience in successfully entering the Chinese healthcare market. Shaun Grady, VP Business Development Operations at AstraZeneca, described how China is AZ’s second biggest market and evolving to be an ‘originator of innovation’. The event showed the huge opportunities for UK biotech in China and we will continue to build on this work throughout the year.

We’ve seen a raft of reports on AMR published in recent weeks and I thought the analysis by Tim Jinks, from the Wellcome Trust in today’s Times is particularly insightful.  He writes “The burden is falling on small biotech’s, who have early-stage funding but face an almost impossible path ahead in the later stages of development. Promising biotechs should not be left facing bankruptcy when they have completed the marathon of R&D to get a new drug approved” Full article here.

Continuing the positive momentum in our sector, on Wednesday the Science Industry Partnership 2030 Skills Strategy, in which the BIA has been heavily involved, will be launched. The report will underpin the skills our industry needs through to 2030. Continuing with the next generation pipeline, this is the final week for applications to our PULSE programme for up and coming life sciences entrepreneurs. Sign up here.

Friday is 31 January, which marks the departure of the UK from the EU. We will be updating our Brexit portal which will provide information regarding the transition period, which will also be discussed during our next Brexit webinar on Thursday, you can sign up here. You may have seen that the MHRA is conducting a survey as part of actions required to implement the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy. The survey seeks feedback from stakeholders involved in clinical trials and who use the Agency’s advice services. I encourage you to provide your responses here.

I am pleased to announce that our Women in Biotech event series will be returning on 4 March, taking place in London, you can register here. A lot more detail about this fantastic programme to follow over the next few weeks.