Championing Strategic Technologies and Backing UK Biotech

The UK is a world-class life sciences cluster and the BIA is proud to celebrate its successes and champion its strengths. On 24 January we did just that, with an event to launch our latest biotech financing report and showcase four of the UK’s strategic technology strengths to investors.

First, the report. We were delighted to publish Confident capital: backing UK biotech, which shows that 2018 was a record-breaking year for biotech fundraising, with a total of over £2.2bn invested into UK-based biotech companies. That’s £1bn more than in 2017 and includes a doubling of venture investment in private companies. It also means that the UK accounts for over 40% of all European biotech investment.


The report was launched at the event by Robert Jenrick MP, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, who said “I genuinely think that your sector is one of the great pillars of the economy today”. You can read an excerpt of the minister’s speech here.

Robert Jenrick MP (left) and Steve Bates OBE, BIA CEO (right) at the BIA Strategic Technologies event in London, 24 January 2019

The minister also set out the government’s ongoing efforts to support the industry, including the Life Sciences Sector Deals and its commitment to encourage pension funds to invest in more illiquid assets, such as scaling companies. BIA CEO Steve Bates welcomed the government’s work and highlighted the many attractive features of the UK business environment, including R&D tax credits and venture capital incentives.   

Despite the impressive levels of investment, we know there are still many investors out there who aren’t aware of the breadth of the UK life sciences sector or don’t feel they have a strong enough understanding of it to make investments.

The second half of the event was therefore dedicated to the UK’s key strategic technologies: genomics; cell and gene therapies; engineering biology; anti-microbial resistance research. The BIA has produced videos explaining these, which were played to the audience before a BIA member company from each of the four sub-sectors presented their technology and one of their investors explained why they see potential in it. Other investors in the room then had the opportunity to ask questions, which included how prices are determined for such complex products, what the regulatory barriers are to market access, and what challenges lie ahead for the UK sector. Unsurprisingly, Brexit was mentioned once or twice.

John Dawson of Oxford Biomedica and Clare Terlouw of Syncona speak about Cell and Gene Therapies

We were delighted with the popularity of the event and it was great to meet investors who have not previously engaged with the BIA, showing we are successfully reaching into new corners of the investment community.  

Thank you to Pinsent Masons for hosting the event and to all of the BIA members who presented.

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