Buoyant Mood is Warranted in UK Life Sciences

Thankfully, and almost in an un-British way, our health and life sciences sector is catching the enthusiasm bug in 2015.  It seemed that half the UK industry decamped briefly to the Bay Area for JP Morgan last month where Kate Bingham from SV Life Sciences pointedly told US investors that they really did need to get themselves to the UK because this is where the action is these days.

Recent industry gatherings in London have served to reinforce the positive vibes.  The London Stock Exchange held a one-day meeting entitled “The Future of Healthcare Investor Forum” which brought companies and financiers together, most notably a number of generalist investors in addition to the specialists. A few days later, the positive vibes were echoed at the 2-day Biotech and Money event where it was great to witness the enthusiasm of Matt Walls of Epistem and Darrin Disley of Horizon Discovery, CEOs of two up and coming publicly traded UK companies with significant interests outside the UK.

The buoyant mood was further reflected at the annual BioIndustry Association Gala Dinner which kicked off the UK life science year and in a recent slew of announcements.  Highlights included:

  • A UK government announcement of some $60 million in funding to bolster the country’s synthetic biology research
  • Oxford company Summit filing plans to go public on Nasdaq with its new approach to treating Duchenne muscular dystrophy
  • Wiltshire diagnostic outfit Atlas Genetics pulling in $20 million in a Series C financing and kicking off trials in the US for its offerings for STDs and hospital-acquired infections
  • The UK House of Commons voting to allow the so-called ‘three-parent embryo’ or mitochondrial transfer procedure which can prevent such disorders being passed on to a child
  • Dow Jones VentureSource presenting rosy numbers for the European healthcare VC scene with a 64% quarter-on-quarter jump in the amount of money raised by European companies
  • News that famed UK investor Jim Mellon is looking to raise up to $150 million for a new fund dedicated to small biotechs in the UK and the rest of Europe
  • The UK’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) teaming up with J&J’s Janssen to figure out why anti-TNF drugs are ineffective in some RA patients
  • A panel set up by the UK government to review antimicrobial resistance calling for the creation of a global innovation fund to spur the discovery of new drugs to counter years of underinvestment by public and private players in basic to mid-stage research
  • Neil Woodford continuing to bet heavily on UK biotech by announcing plans to raise about $300 million for an investment trust dubbed the Woodford Patient Capital Trust which will be listed on the London Stock Exchange
  • Transatlantic biotech Motif Bio, which started life in 2003 as a New York population genetics firm built upon genome data from the Gulf states before pivoting into a transatlantic antibiotics player, outlining plans to raise $24 million in an IPO on AIM
  • Welsh company Cell Therapy hitting a crowdfunding record for life sciences in the UK by securing over $1 million for its heart disease treatment via the Crowdcube platform, after opting to turn down venture capital offers, trading less than 1% of its equity for the crowd cash from some 300 people. Skeptics abound but we will watch this with interest
  • Innovate UK’s latest Catapult programme starting to come into focus with the announcement of old friend Richard Barker as the new Chairman. Richard is a former member of the BELS community and fellow conspirator back in the day when he ran the ABPI and I ran the BIA which we chose to co-locate in Victoria Street offices to help drive greater synergies in the sector

For more information about BELS and developments in the UK life science sector, please visit our website  www.belsgroup.com.

Best regards

Nigel Gaymond

About admin

British Expats in Life Sciences (BELS) - a powerful, strategic membership network - is strengthening connections between highly-accomplished, British-trained health & life science leaders at home and abroad to encourage international collaboration by providing insights, intelligence, introductions and interactions.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.