Guest blog | Sean Morgan-Jones | UK Biotech PLC is Totally Smashing It...

This blog originally appeared on LinkedIn - Click here to see it 

‘The UK is leading a two speed Europe’ (McKinsey & Company, Biotech in Europe: Scaling Innovation May 20, 2019).

One of the key findings and contrary to the received wisdom, is that the UK is totally smashing it on all measures as a Biotech hot spot according to research presented at BioEquity Europe in Barcelona by McKinsey & Company looking at where's hot and where's not.

Of the 1,000 European Biotechs established since 2012 the UK is leading by a country mile and represents 35% of all new Biotechs and according to the report and is leading a two speed Europe (with Germany, France and Spain in relative decline). 

The UK now represents 27% of all Biotech in Europe and leads on every single modality cluster studied in the report, including immuno therapies, cell and gene therapy, Advanced Therapeutic Medicinal Products, metabolic disease, vaccines and anti-bodies.

As the Chief Commercial Officer  for Morgan Prestwich, global leaders in Biotech Executive Search, part of my remit is attending all the key investor partnering conferences, mostly in Europe and the US (East and West Coast).

The dreaded 'B' word comes up at most open plenaries and delegates are now running odds on how far into the sessions we get before Brexit raises its head, the ultimate elephant in the room.........8 seconds is the record to date.

Our European cousins are for the most part very polite and courteous about the current uncertainty, however some appear at times to hold the poor old Brit panellists personally responsible for the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

At a recent session at The Biotechnology Innovation Organisation in Philadelphia, I must commend Steve Bates, CEO of the UK BioIndustry Association who did a sterling job in diffusing tensions from a fellow panellist representing the European Medicines Agency by articulating a coherent, pragmatic and strategic view of how we move forwards whatever the impact of Brexit.

On the investment side of things, Europe now represents great value when compared to the frothy US markets.  Money inflow to Europe increased from USD $5b in the six year period to 2011, to nearly USD $12b to 2018 with UK, Switzerland and Belgium absorbing over 60% (Germany declined to 8% from 31% in the previous period).

Investment from China has added to this increase, jumping over the US and straight into Europe, with the UK picking up a disproportionate amount of the Chinese investment......we should all brush up on our Mandarin me thinks.

One little cloud on the horizon highlighted in the report related to talent in Europe. On the plus side, Europe was found to have only slightly less top quality innovation and talent than US, but was well off the pace in terms of specific Biotech experience and entrepreneurial flare. There is great talent sitting in Big Pharma for sure, but not everyone is cut out for the hurly burly of Biotech and we tend to be more risk averse than our American counterparts.

So, as a Brit on tour, it was greatly encouraging to hear just how well the UK domestic Biotech scene is doing and so it's hats off to all those brave investors, brilliant scientists, clinical developers, commercialization professionals and entrepreneurial C-Suite leadership who are totally smashing it out of the park and truly flying the flag for UK Biotech PLC.

Sean Morgan-Jones is the Chief Commercial Officer at Morgan Prestwich - Life Sciences Executive Search

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