CEO Update|Monday 21 October 2019

Two key developments in funding innovative UK life sciences companies this week. First, a new report demonstrates that the Biomedical Catalyst is effective evidence-based policy. The report published by Ipsos Mori last Wednesday shows that the Catalyst effectively leverages private sector investment into the UK life sciences and has supported R&D projects with £240 million since 2012. The Government’s own Queen's speech briefing shows that every £1 of public expenditure on R&D leverages around £1.40 of additional private investment, this new analysis proves that the Biomedical Catalyst  outperforms that by leveraging up to £5.09 of private investment for each £1 of public expenditure.

So I’ve called again on the Government to refill this fantastic scheme,  do read our press release for more information.

Second, British Patient Capital (BPC),  the section of the British Business Bank charged with investing over the next decade £2.5bn of public money to boost UK productivity through investing in  growth, has published its first annual report today. In the report, BPC CEO Catherine Lewis La Torre announces that in their portfolio they now have £59m committed to three life sciences funds. The report also highlights BPC’s £9m investment in the Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF) last June, which closed with over £250m. Attention is also drawn to Patient Capital’s support for Balderton Capital which enabled them to support a Series A investment into AI-powered BIA member Healx last year, which recently announced a $56m raise in a Series B financing round.

BPC Chair Keith Morgan  is confident   that patient capital can be unlocked as an entire new asset class. He said: “We want British Patient Capital to become a permanent and integral part of the UK’s finance landscape, unlocking more institutional funding whilst making its own commitments to funds. Once we’ve established a strong track record, and have proved the value of patient capital as an asset class, we intend to privatise British Patient Capital at an appropriate time in the future”. It’s great to have such an optimistic partner in our shared goal of ensuring that UK life sciences can attract the capital it needs to thrive to scale. 

In Westminster, the chaos continues. For the first time since the 1920s we may see a Queen’s Speech fail to get a majority, putting into jeopardy the Bills we briefed you on last week. If so, it would leave the Government with no legislative agenda.

On Brexit, ‘Super Saturday’ came and went, the  Withdrawal Bill may be tabled and amended this week and the Prime Minister has sent a letter requesting a Brexit delay to Brussels. The power is now with the EU to either grant or deny an extension, so a no-deal Brexit on October 31 remains possible and this looks set to go down to the wire.

We will continue with our briefing on no-deal readiness in Scotland and Wales this week and will hold a webinar on Friday so companies can calibrate the chances of a deal, no-deal, or delay a week before the October 31 deadline. In another point of certainty, the Government secured ferry routes for use in the event of no-deal and the Department of Health-secured emergency routes are now procured. Companies seeking to use that capacity in the event of no-deal should contact the civil service contact that you have registered with.

The UK Bioscience Forum last week was a great success, and our star surprise guest was Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP. It was great to hear him promise the sector that: “as long as I can, and with whatever I can, I will do everything in my power to help you thrive.” On Brexit he was very clear that the UK government will pursue post-Brexit “regulatory collaboration” with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and that the Government wants to have “mutual recognition of products produced in the UK and the EU”. He acknowledged the messages coming from our sector, saying “I know that this is the preferred outcome for many of you,” and understood the business benefit to the UK economy “It would allow for smooth trade with the EU and it’s something we’re working hard to achieve. This is our plan A and it’s consistent with the political declaration that was published today.”

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock with BIA CEO Steve Bates OBE at the UK Bioscience Forum 2019. Credit: Rusne Draz

If you want the details of the healthcare aspects of the political declaration it’s published here. With regards to the EMA, it states that the U.K and the EU want to “explore the possibility” of UK collaboration with the agency.

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) has published a report about how clinical research contributes to the UK economywhich shows that NIHR CRN supported clinical research activity generated around £2.7 billion of Gross Value Added (GVA) for  the UK economy and an estimated 47,500 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs - more evidence of the success that investment into the life sciences sector creates for the UK.

The Genetic Alliance rare disease report has been published and can be read here.

As you set your diaries for 2020 do book a table for our Gala Dinner in January which is selling fast. Preparations for our annual BioProcess UK event are well underway, details and registration can be found here. BIA member IQVIA will be holding a half day event in London next month, discussing how biotech companies can optimise the value of their healthcare, find out more here.