CEO Update|Monday 21 September

COVID-19 update

Amidst the increasingly concerning picture of rising infection rates in the UK, our sector continues to pioneer long-term solutions to COVID-19. The UK Vaccine Taskforce announced that the Government has secured supply of 60 million doses of Valneva’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, with options for more between 2022 and 2025. This will be made at Valneva’s UK manufacturing facility in Livingston and the Government is supporting the scale-up of this facility in Scotland. Valneva’s inactivated, adjuvanted, two-dose vaccine candidate is scheduled to enter its first clinical studies this December.

On COVID-19 testing it is clear that, despite significant scale up, demand is outstripping capacity. The National Testing and Supplies Team has released a Request for Information (RFI) to engage the market for potential suppliers who can help meet growing demand for COVID-19 tests. This is to help scale up efforts further and meet the ambition of mass testing in response to winter demand and beyond. Industry will be key to supplying the volume of consumables needed to meet the expected high demand. You can access specification documentation and respond to the RFI here.

I am pleased to see that two new Lighthouse Labs will be set up in Newcastle and Bracknell, increasing testing capacity by tens of thousands. The two new Lighthouse Labs follow the previous announcements of others in Newport and Charnwood, which will scale testing capacity to help deliver the goal of 500,000 tests a day by the end of October. The national testing scheme still needs skilled people, especially experienced staff who have already helped to establish the Lighthouse Labs, to return to train the next generation of staff.

Over 400 technicians, post-docs, or graduate students with molecular biology experience, are being sought to staff the new Lighthouse Labs as well as qualified technicians with management experience, to help manage overall laboratory capacity. I encourage you to share with your networks this letter from the Prime Minister regarding the urgent need for laboratory staff who can help run the high-volume labs for testing.

BIA-MHRA Regulatory Innovation Conference

Last week’s joint BIA-MHRA Regulatory Innovation Conference was a huge success and I would like to thank everyone who was involved in the event, including attendees who created some great discussions around the future of UK medicines regulation. I particularly pay tribute to our co-chairs Dr June Raine, Chief Executive of MHRA, and Emma Du Four, Head of International Regulatory Policy at AbbVie and Chair of our Regulatory Affairs Advisory Committee who led the conference with enthusiasm and expert insight that was really appreciated by delegates.

This was our first virtual regulatory conference and it couldn’t have come at a more pivotal time for medicines regulation, with the end of the Brexit transition period looming while still in the midst of a global pandemic.

Brexit update

The Internal Market Bill continues to make its way through Parliament this week and we will monitor its progress (and any detail that emerges regarding the Northern Ireland protocol). We will update at our latest BIA Brexit Briefing Webinar taking place this Thursday at 11am.

Deloitte Life Sciences Catalyst

Deloitte has developed the Life Sciences Catalyst which offers a collaborative platform for growing biotech and medtech companies, pharmaceutical companies, technology companies and prospective investors to come together to tackle the big challenges facing us all.

To introduce you to the Life Sciences Catalyst, Deloitte is hosting a virtual launch event tomorrow, Tuesday 22 September. You will hear about the challenges facing the Life Sciences sector and the support available for companies through the Life Sciences Catalyst. Register here.

BIA Board of Directors election

As a member-owned and led not-for-profit organisation, the success of the BIA is down to the active participation of our members. It’s fantastic to see members continuing to come forward to seek election to the BIA Board. From tomorrow, the members election for posts on the BIA Board of Directors will open for voting. Details will be emailed out to members, along with the notice of the 2020 AGM which will be held on 21 October and they will also all be available within the Board section of the website. If you have any questions regarding our Board election, please contact our Chief Operating Officer – Nick Gardiner. Many thanks to all the members who have put themselves forward this year and I encourage all member companies to use their vote in the coming weeks.  

Member recognition

I’d like to congratulate BIA member, Abzena, a fully integrated global development and GMP manufacturing partner for the biopharmaceutical industry, who have been announced as the winner of the Best Contract Research (CRO) category at the World ADC Awards 2020. Congratulations also to Mogrify for winning the AstraZeneca Life Science Innovation category at the Business Weekly Awards. The award commends Mogrify in applying its proprietary direct cellular conversion technology to further the cause of life science discovery for the benefit of human healthcare.

I hope to see many of you at another one of our key events this week, our Women in Biotech networking event on Thursday afternoon. The keynote speakers are Jane Osbourn and Anne Osbourn – it’s the first time in 12 years of the network that we’ve had two sisters share their experience of careers in the ecosystem. 


Steve Bates

Chief Executive Officer


Steve Bates has been the CEO of the UK Bioindustry Association since 2012. He currently chairs the International Council of Biotech Associations and has been a Board member of Europabio since 2015. Steve is the visible face of the vibrant UK life sciences industry to government and media. He sits on the UK’s Life Sciences Council and Life Sciences Industrial Strategy Implementation Board. Steve has championed with government effective industrial incentives like the Biomedical Cataylst which have crowded-in private sector investment into UK SMES. He has forged links for the sector across the USA, Europe and in China. In his time at the BIA Steve has developed new member groups focused on cell and gene therapy, genomics and engineered biology. A strong advocate of partnership working, Steve champions sector collaboration with research charities and academia. Proud to lead an organisation with a diverse Board with over 40% female representation, Steve is committed to next generation talent and developing the skills needed for the sector to flourish. Before the BIA, Steve worked for Genzyme and as an advisor to the UK Government of Tony Blair. He was made OBE for services to innovation in 2017.