CEO Update | Monday 28 January

What a night we had last Thursday at the 23rd BIA Gala Dinner. It was fantastic to see our guests – all 700 of you! – having a great evening of networking and raising money for our charity partner Action Medical Research.  


Earlier in the day, we had great attendance at our Strategic Technologies event, kindly hosted by BIA member Pinsent Masons, where our new finance report, Confident capital: backing UK biotech was launched by the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Robert Jenrick MP. The report shows just how vibrant biotech was in the UK in 2018, with the UK accounting for 40% of all venture capital raised in Europe throughout the year, over £1.1bn in total. Companies are choosing to stay private for longer, and venture capital deals were larger than in previous years. The minister hailed biotech as a pillar of the UK economy, took questions and listened to members' views on Brexit.


We heard from leading companies working in each of our areas of scientific focus: cell and gene therapy; antimicrobial resistance; engineering biology; and genomics. Alongside each of the experts were investors in the area, explaining the value of investing in these cutting-edge technologies. We showcased our Explainers and our Celebrating UK Bioscience video series, highlighting the brilliant and innovative work of BIA member companies in each of these spaces. The event was followed with some great networking and some Clark Kent-style changing before heading off to the BIA Gala Dinner at The Brewery.


It was fantastic to hear from NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens on the night, who reminded us why the NHS is the envy of many a nation, and has the capability to be a core partner for the types of innovative businesses that will emerge in an era of AI and genomic medicine. We were also deeply moved hearing from Simon and Samantha Harriss representing Action Medical Research. Their words about their daughter Lily were personal, heartfelt and truly inspiring and their family commitment to support rare disease research is wonderful to see. We hope you all enjoyed the silent auction on the night and we look forward to developing our partnership with Action Medical Research as the year goes on. Contactless donations proved a popular innovation on the night – a huge thanks to everyone who put their hands in their pockets for the charity.


Simon and Samantha Harriss, representing Action Medical Research, addressing guests at the BIA Gala Dinner


We were also delighted to award Melanie Lee CBE, CEO of LifeArc, our lifetime achievement award. With a stellar 30-year career in healthcare R&D and having held positions in a variety of research charities, she is a leader in the industry and well-deserving of this recognition. While accepting the award, she emphasised the importance of collaboration, developing the next generation of talent, and working together to achieve results. You can read more from her on our blog.


As though Thursday weren’t busy enough, Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP announced a commitment to exploring a new payment model for antibiotics in the NHS. The UK has long been a global leader on policy relating to Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), so the UK taking a lead on delinked funding approaches and new thinking on valuation via NICE is great news for BIA member companies working in this field. This is the type of action we hope is replicated by other governments. The World Health Organisation has listed antimicrobial resistance as one of the Ten Threats to Global Health in 2019, so this commitment is timely.


Do check out all the other work we have done on behalf of members in our new Quarterly Report published here, we’ll update on Brexit developments we expect this week in next weeks Newscast.




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