By Annie Zeng
Gene therapy is an experimental and therapeutic technique involving the engineering of genes with the hope to cure disease at its root cause. This has become an increasingly buoyant area for investment and although still at an early phase of development, there have been recent approvals of clinical and commercial gene therapies for use in humans.
Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership is to invest £1.2m into Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC) to help grow a world-class cell and gene therapy cluster.
The £1.2m Local Growth Fund investment will provide much-needed temporary accommodation for growing cell and gene therapy companies, strengthening the UK’s sectorial advantage and Hertfordshire’s position within the Oxford-London-Cambridge golden research triangle.
UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund (UKI2S) has celebrated the first anniversary of its UKI2S Innovate Accelerator, a joint funding initiative with Innovate UK (IUK) directed at early stage science and engineering companies.
Edinburgh-based biotechnology company MedAnnex Ltd has received a further £1 million investment from The Scottish Investment Bank (SIB), the investment arm of Scotland’s national economic development agency, Scottish Enterprise. This adds to a recent £10 million Series B investment, by Boston-based global Life Sciences investor Morningside Ventures, to close an £11 million funding round for MedAnnex.
Oxford, UK, July 24 2019 - Following an architectural competition for a compelling contemporary design in 2018, involving four first-class international practices, and after open consultation with the local community, The Oxford Science Park has filed for detailed planning permission for a major new phase of development on its Plot 16.
‘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).
Today, the BIA is pleased to publish a new report, ‘Life sciences: Catalysing investment and growth”. which sets out how our sector is driving investment and growth across the UK and makes the case for increased cost-effective public investment in the sector. The report aims to inform the Government, UKRI and other policy makers as they prepare for the forthcoming Spending Review and develop an R&D roadmap to reach 2.4% R&D target.
Many congratulations to BIA Chair, Dr Jane Osbourn who has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours announced at the weekend. Jane is a true pioneer in our sector, who not only has pioneered world-class research and contributed to blockbuster discoveries but is a passionate advocate for the UK life sciences sector. For me, Jane’s greatest qualities are her abilities to communicate and lead, she has and always will be a trailblazer in our sector and I’m delighted that she has received this award.
In Westminster the Conservative leadership contest to replace Theresa May is underway and we have produced a life sciences focused guide to the runners and riders which is available here.
The £27m UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund (UKI2S) and Innovate UK (IUK) have launched a joint initiative, the UKI2S Innovate Accelerator. With £10m of IUK funding to be used alongside direct equity investment by UKI2S, the new scheme is designed to boost some of the UK’s most exciting young companies.
UK life science certainly feels more Champions League Final (Spurs v Liverpool) than Eurovision (UK last place) this week. First, LifeArc has announced that it has sold most of its royalty interest in the blockbuster drug Keytruda for $1.3bn (£1.02bn) and plans to invest the windfall in developing new treatments. The sale was made to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, one of the world’s largest retirement funds. We were thrilled that recently-appointed LifeArc CEO, Melanie Lee, was the recipient of our lifetime achievement award at the BIA Gala Dinner in January – it’s fantastic to see her leading the way on LifeArc’s monetization process. This is great news for the UK life sciences ecosystem, research and patients. You can read more about this in the Financial Times.