CEO Update: Monday 9 July

What a week we’ve picked for our annual Parliament Day this Thursday. Chief Executives and senior management from over 40 of our members will join us on the day to interact directly with over 30 ministers, MPs and senior civil servants, raising the profile of the biotech sector. It’s now the day that the government releases its white paper on the UK’s future relationship with the EU post Brexit. We’ll provide a briefing for members when we’ve seen its contents. With cabinet resignations this morning following the PM’s summit on Brexit at Chequers,  I don’t know what the state of play will be by mid-week, however I am certain that with our excellent community of members we’ll be able to bring our points to bear with the people that matter. This will be the case not only Brexit issues, but Patient Capital developments and our thinking into the future of industrial strategy and UKRI thinking.  

Our Parliament Day will finish with our annual Summer Networking Reception, on the roof terrace of the IET Savoy Place. This event is a great opportunity to make new business contacts and enjoy the views of London. While registration for Parliament day itself is now closed, places are still available for our Summer Networking Reception, and BIA members can save £100 when purchasing 5 tickets. It is well worth inviting a few colleagues and joining us on the evening. You can register here. I’ll be looking out for the Trump balloon that I believe will be flying Thursday evening in advance of the President’s visit to the UK on Friday. 

This weekend’s headlines overshadowed a considered speech by Minister for Science Sam Gyimah at the opening of the new Schrödinger Building at the Oxford Science Park, in which he highlighted the importance of emphasising to the global community that the UK is “open for business”. He spoke about the importance of clarity in a post-Brexit immigration system. The BIA have long championed the idea that freedom of movement for the brightest minds is essential to produce the best outcomes for patients, and that we must maintain the UK’s standing as a world leader in this field. Mr Gyimah said: “As we think about our post-Brexit immigration system, we should design it in a way that makes Britain a place where the sharpest minds can come to work on the biggest challenges.” To that end, there is to be a change of the tier five visas for temporary workers, which is aiming to attract scientists to £900 million worth of fellowships under the UK Research and Innovation agency’s “Future Leaders” scheme. This is welcome news for scientists, the UK and patients alike. 

Over the past few weeks we have been meeting with UK government and European Commission officials to provide our views on the Commission's Proposal for a Supplementary Protection Certificate (SPC) manufacturing waiver. We’ve provided the UK SME view and made a series of recommendations to improve the legislation, which you can read here. Last week we also submitted to the government’s Business Productivity Review to help their understanding of the strengths and challenges we have in UK bioscience.    

Last week we held out joint conference with the MHRA which proved insightful for all in attendance. The day kicked off with an introduction from MHRA Chief Executive, Dr Ian Hudson and Alan Morrison, Chairman, BIA Regulatory Affairs Advisory Committee, and Vice President, Regulatory Affairs International, MSD. Topics covered throughout the day included a discussion of the UK regulatory environment as it stands at the moment, and looking forward to the future beyond Brexit. Our keynote address was presented by Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, who also emphasised the importance of accelerated access. Discussions in the afternoon moved to the topic of drug-device combinations - how best to support innovation, and addressing the regulatory challenges presented by this new and exciting area of biotechnology. We will be publishing a write up of the conference for members unable to attend in the coming weeks. At the end of the event, I was delighted to thank the chair of our Regulatory Affairs Advisory Committee, Alan Morrison, for his tremendous work in the role of leading the committee to-date. While we are sad to see him step down from the role, I was delighted to be able to welcome Emma Du Four from AbbVie as she takes on the role of chair. We look forward to working with her on the committee. 

Finally, congratulations are in order for former BIA Board member Eva Lotta Allan, who has been appointed as chair of the C4X Discovery Holdings PLC and to BIA member Abingworth who today announced the final closing of its latest fund, Abingworth Bioventures VII at $315 million. Whatever the comings and goings in politics, it’s great to see our sector progressing and thriving. 

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