CEO Update Monday 9 April

We started off last week by seeing the highly anticipated launch of UKRI, marking a significant reorganisation of the UK funding landscape. Sir Mark Walport will head up the organisation, which has brought together seven research councils, Innovate UK and Research England to provide a strategic, unified voice for UK science at a crucial time.  I look forward to working with Sir Mark and UKRI to promote scientific innovation in the UK.

I was also pleased to see our Charity of the Year, Parkinson’s UK, win BIA member Benevolent AI’s inaugural BAI award for their collaboration with the Cure Parkinson’s Trust. This award will give the charity AI-driven R&D support from BenevolentAI and will be an exciting case-study of how artificial intelligence can be used to identify new potential treatments for complex diseases. Staying with Parkinson’s, the BIA team is training hard at the moment in preparation for the Tough Mudder race at the end of this month to raise money for Parkinson’s UK. Our goal is to raise £2,000 so please show your support by donating to this fantastic cause.

The UK government is consulting on a new fund structure that will provide Enterprise Innovation Scheme (EIS)-like incentives and allow individuals to invest in a diversified portfolio. This could open up opportunities for the public to invest in knowledge intensive sectors such as bioscience. The BIA is responding to the consultation and we are keen that it is informed by the views and experiences of our bioscience members and partners in the investment community. Please input your views to us using this form or contact Martin Turner to discuss in person.

The BIA is also responding to another government consultation on allowing founding entrepreneurs to claim tax relief on capital gains made before their shareholding is diluted below 5% (currently they lose all relief when diluted below the 5% cap). We are engaging with the Treasury to emphasise that their proposals do not go far enough to benefit life science entrepreneurs and incentivise business creation and growth. We need your evidence to support our case. If you have been affected by the 5% cap or if it has created problems when founding or fundraising for a company, please contact Martin Turner

Last week, HMRC made a statement on the Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) scheme and State Aid approval. We’ve uploaded a short blog that I’d encourage you to take a look at, which includes some context from FTI Consulting, a member of the BIA Finance and Tax Advisory Committee (FTAC). I’d also advise members to consult their internal accountants or tax advisers for further guidance on this issue.

In funding news, Innovate UK have opened a competition for a share of up to £10m for joint UK-China projects to tackle antimicrobial resistance. AMR is a global problem, so this competition is a great opportunity for UK organisations working in the AMR space to carry out an international project and build relationships in China. Find out more here.

In events news, on Wednesday morning we’ll be holding a networking breakfast in London, kindly hosted by Herbert Smith Freehills. Wednesday is World Parkinson’s Day, so the event will fittingly be focussed on new patient-centric funding models for accelerating cures. We will hear from Parkinson’s UK about their Virtual Biotech, as well as the Dementia Discovery Fund, AMRC and LifeArc and how they seek to invest in early-stage projects to improve patient outcomes. Register here

Next Friday I’ll be giving the latest Brexit briefing webinar in our monthly series. I’ll be providing an update on Government policy, progress of working groups, and how these potentially affect companies in life sciences. We’ve had a fantastic turn out for these webinars and have been getting great feedback, so make sure to tune in. You can register here and watch previous months’ webinars on our YouTube channel.

And finally, on Thursday 7th June, the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP) will be holding their 2018 conference at GSK Stevenage.The conference will focus on emerging innovative technologies and their potential impact on medicines manufacturing, as well as opportunities from the Industrial Challenge Strategy Fund and the Life Sciences Sector Deal. It’s free to attend so mark the date in your diaries and find out more about the event here.

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