CEO Update | Wednesday 19 December

2018 is coming to a close, and what a year it has been for UK Biotech, in particular BIA members. Our sector has been thriving and growing, with 2018 set to exceed 2017 in terms of finance raised. It’s also been fantastic to see the BIA at its most vibrant ever with 3100 event delegates, 2000 webinar attendees, 165 blogs, 20 media mentions per month. To close the year here are our Brexit-free “12 days of Christmas”, or the 12 highlights of the year as we reflect on all of our work in 2018.


  1. This year saw the launch of our new Programme for Up-and-coming Life Science Entrepreneurs programme, PULSE, developed in collaboration with the Francis Crick Institute. We had 25 early-stage entrepreneurs from around the country attend, looking to gain practical advice and guidance from our experienced membership. Big thanks are due to those who helped us in this new venture and made it such a success. We will be running the programme again next year, with the hope of fostering another cohort of successful new biotech companies.
  2. We saw the launch of the £2.5bn British Patient Capital fund by the British Business Bank. Stemming from the 2017 Patient Capital Review, this is one of the biggest steps a UK government has taken to improve the availability of venture and scale-up capital for British companies in a lifetime.
  3. A sunny May day brought the annual CEO and Investor Forum to a fun start, with archery and clay shooting to get people into the networking mood. We had another packed agenda with some excellent panel discussions around real world evidence, digital tech developments, global relevancy and tapping into China. Look out for our Forum next June with an equally engaging agenda planned.
  4. We saw a successful relaunch of the APPG for Life Sciences following the promotion of its founding Chair, Kit Malthouse MP, into Government. We were delighted that Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner agreed to be the new Chair. The cross-party group of MPs and peers, run by the BIA, ABPI and BIVDA, shows there continues to be great interest in our sector within Parliament. This was reinforced with a successful series of roundtables at the political party conferences in September and October.
  5. July saw our 18th annual Parliament Day, which was a roaring success. As our flagship influencing event, Parliament Day facilitates important interactions between BIA members and policymakers across Westminster and Whitehall. You can read more about the success of the day here.
  6. The BIA took its seat on the newly formed Life Science Council ensuring the voice of members is effectively heard at the heart of government.
  7. It was a great year for cell and gene therapies, as this technology became an approved therapy for a range of indications. 2018 began with the approval of Strimvelis and ending with NHS England agreeing to reimburse NICE approved, CAR-T cell therapies manufactured by Novartis (with help from Oxford Biomedica) and Gilead sciences. Further to this, the Advanced Therapy Treatment Centres are ensuring the NHS are understanding how to best to deliver cell and gene therapies for patients.  
  8. In September the BIA published UK biotech financing data that showed that over £900m venture capital had already been raised in 2018, for exceeding the £515m total for 2017. We will be publishing the full data for 2018 in January and it is looking to be a record-breaking year!
  9. Activities didn’t slow down as Q4 approached – our Bioscience Forum attracted a brilliant and engaged crowd in October and we enjoyed some well-earned glasses of wine for networking at our Autumn reception. Our 15th annual bioProcess UK conference attracted 300 delegates to Edinburgh, where we trended on twitter and were treated to all of the local goodies including highland dancers, haggis and local whiskey.
  10. It was an outstanding year for Genomics in the UK – 65 years on from Watson and Crick identifying the double helix, Genomics England announced that they had hit their sequencing target of 100,000 genomes.
  11. We produced 4 explainer documents, delving into four key areas of scientific focus, which aim to explain the science and technology behind them to an educated lay audience. We produced 5 brilliant videos to accompany the explainers, along with a video exploring the partnership between our charity of the year Parkinson’s UK, and BIA member Benevolent AI.
  12. And we closed the year with the publication of the Life Science Sector Deal 2 showing UK Industrial Strategy in action – with government commitments to keep our sector at the forefront of biomedical innovation mirrored by key investments including BIA UCB committing one of its 2 global R+D sites to the UK.


We’ll be taking this positive UK message to the JPM conference in the first week back after the break. If you are planning on going, our 20 minute webinar on getting ready for JPM is well worth a listen for preparation.


If you want the latest on Brexit we have our last webinar of the year this afternoon at 1600 – we’ll have the latest insight on some of the overlooked “No Deal” preparations that have significant implications for our sector and an analysis of how things may develop in the New Year.

This is our last Newscast of the year, and we will return to your inboxes on January 7th – in the meantime Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us at the BIA.