Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is BELS?
  2. Why is BELS an important organisation?
  3. How is BELS different from other organizations focused on the life sciences?
  4. Who can join?
  5. Who comprises the BELS community?
  6. Is BELS only for life scientists?
  7. Why join BELS?
  8. How do I become a Member?
  9. What are the membership & supporter categories?
  10. What are the benefits of BELS membership?
  11. What sort of commitment is expected of Members?
  12. How does BELS helps expats give back?
  13. What are the benefits of being a BELS Affiliate Supporter?
  14. What are the benefits of supporting BELS?
  15. How can I connect with other BELS Members?
  16. Will Members be listed in a directory?
  17. Why not list all BELS Members in a directory?
  18. How long does membership last?
  19. What will membership fees pay for?
  20. How do I pay for membership?
  21. Is membership tax-deductible? What is the rationale for a company to reimburse a BELS Member for the cost of BELS membership fees?
  22. How can I get involved?
  23. How can I find out about BELS activities and future events?
  24. Who can attend BELS events?
  25. Where is BELS based?
  26. Will BELS share my name and contact details with others?

1. What is BELS?
BELS (British Expats in Life Sciences) is an influential, strategic membership network that connects and fosters relations and interaction among an enthusiastic, highly-accomplished group of UK expatriates and other overseas alumni of UK universities who hold leadership positions in the health and life sciences globally. BELS encourages international collaboration and enables this extraordinary talent base to strengthen connections with the UK health and life sciences to mutually benefit themselves, their organisations, and this important sector in the UK and globally. (See more about BELS and our vision, mission & aims)

  1. Why is BELS an important organisation?

Collaboration is essential to scientific innovation and achieving meaningful progress in improving healthcare. BELS is focused on building and strengthening global linkages between our highly-accomplished expat/overseas alumni life scientists and our UK-based life scientists and organisations to foster international collaboration.  We are also increasing awareness of this extensive talent base working outside the UK and the extraordinary value that could be derived from increased interaction with them―to benefit the expats/other overseas alumni themselves, the organisations at which they work, and the health and life sciences sector in the UK and globally.

There has been significant angst over the so-called brain drain resulting from the flow of skilled life sciences professionals who left the UK.  The time has come to shift this focus onto brain circulation or brain exchange. For herein lies a bright side to such migration, in that the UK’s reputation and reach can be enhanced and expanded by increasing engagement with our highly-skilled, well-placed expat/overseas alumni life scientists, and viewing them as part of this UK sector (they are part of us). For they can bring an added dimension of experience, influence and global diversity to inform the UK’s life science strategy and to impact our results involving market access for inward investment, exports, specialist manufacturing, clinical trials, collaborations, etc (they can help us).

However, such engagement between these expats/other overseas alumni and their peers in the UK will only be beneficial if it involves a win-win, for both groups.  While predisposed by heritage to take notice of what’s happening here, our expats/other overseas alumni cannot make decisions that favour the UK without solid business reasons.  With better engagement, they can be equipped to serve as informal ambassadors, poised to spread the word, appropriately collaborate and conduct business with the UK.

BELS is working to strengthen such engagement and foster connections to benefit the expats/overseas alum, their organisations and UK plc by providing insights, intelligence, introductions, interactions.  In this way, we can benefit BELS Members and demonstrably turn the perceived brain drain into a brain gain for the UK.

BELS operates within a set of Guiding Principles. As such, the BELS database is not shared outside the organisation. This is both to protect Members from being inundated with approaches and to exert a level of quality control over interactions. As a BELS Member, you will always control your involvement. The BELS organisation acts as a screening mechanism to offer Members selective, appropriate opportunities for engagement, and to broker their requests for insights, intelligence, introductions, reconnections, and interaction with other BELS Members.

  1. How is BELS different from other organisations focused on the life sciences?
    BELS has a shared goal with other life science organisations of pushing for progress in the health and life science sector globally. What sets us apart is:
  • Our membership is comprised of highly-accomplished executives, researchers, clinicians, academics and investors with strong ties to the UK who are involved in various aspects of the health and life science sector globally, including pharma, biotech, medtech and medicine.
  • BELS is focused on encouraging and enabling international collaboration.
  • We intend for our events to be somewhat small by design, so attendees can have meaningful interactions and leave having made lasting connections that over time will lead to tangible outcomes for BELS Members and the health and life science sectors.
  • At BELS events, British-trained life scientists working at home and abroad can interact with peers they would not usually meet.
  • Because the network is of such high calibre, BELS is able to attract top talent from UK government, academia and industry to events so that attendees can both learn more about the current state of play and the wealth of opportunities available today in this UK sector and work together to tackle shared challenges.
  1. Who can join?

Primary Membership is available to accomplished individual British expats and other overseas alumni of UK universities who work in the health and life sciences outside of the UK.  UK-based life scientists who spent time in a position based abroad are also welcome to join.

Founding Membership  open to individual life science leaders who are special supporters wishing to assist the BELS organisation in moving forward more rapidly.  Their championing of the BELS cause provides a leadership commitment to extend the UK’s heritage of scientific excellence in the spirit of collaboration, innovation and kinship

Affiliate Supporters are organisations involved in the health and life sciences.

Learn more about BELS membership

  1.  Who comprises the BELS community?
    After years of networking and research, the BELS Management Team has developed The BELS List comprised of over 2,800 life science leaders who are British expats and other overseas alumni of UK universities working at more than 1,300 organisations in the health and life sciences in 43 countries outside the UK. They play powerful roles in pharma, biotech and medicine throughout the world. They hold over 1,000 board seats and more serve on advisory and scientific committees across the sector.  They are CEOs, CSOs, CFOs, CIOs, COOs, renowned professors, venture capitalists, senior medics, and senior business executives in R&D, marketing, business development, product development, operations, manufacturing, regulatory affairs, communications, human resources, etc.
  1. Is BELS only for life scientists?
    We use the terms science and scientists rather loosely to refer to a wide range of people who work in the health and life science sector, including researchers as well as business people, medical practitioners, academics, etc whose professional lives are involved in medical innovation, including pharma, biotech, medical devices and other medical technologies, diagnostics, research institutes, universities, hospitals, medical charities, and the service sectors that support them. Also, we draw no sharp distinction between science and technology. The convergence of sectors that are helping to drive progress in medical innovation leads us to also include professionals engaged in IT, food and nutrition, engineering, aeronautics, and agribusiness.
  1. Why join BELS?

Executives are under pressure to access strong business intelligence and to do more with less. BELS is building stronger linkages between organisations in the UK health and life sciences sector and a unique, influential group of highly-accomplished British expats and other alumni of UK universities who hold senior positions at health and life science organisations around the world.

BELS is fostering connections which can be expected to  spark potential business opportunities and solutions to healthcare challenges in a world where collaboration is essential.

We are also increasing awareness of this extensive talent base and the extraordinary value that could be derived from increased interaction with them―to benefit BELS Members, the organisations at which they work around the globe, and the UK health and life sciences sector.

Members join BELS to stay up to speed on the UK health and life sciences sector; to gain access to a unique, valuable resource that delivers information, intelligence, introductions and interactions with peers in the sector; to selectively participate in, derive value from, and contribute to this UK sector; and to support BELS as a worthy cause because Membership fees are essential to support the work of the organisation.

For Primary Members― BELS enables connections between individuals in our highly-accomplished expat/overseas alumni community and organisations in the health & life sciences sectors, both in the UK and globally.

For Affiliate Supporters― BELS helps you build and strengthen your profile and global connections to impact your business success.

BELS Members are afforded numerous benefits which enable them to:

  • Expand international collaboration
  • Keep abreast of developments in the UK’s health and life sciences sector
  • Tap into organisations in the UK and globally via insights, intelligence, introductions and interactions that BELS enables
  • Access a stellar talent pool of expertise, experience, opinion and influence
  • Connect or reconnect with other BELS Members and health & life scientists in the UK
  • Exchange best practice ideas, information and experiences
  • Spark potential business opportunities
  • Develop new ideas and generate leads
  • Be part of an informed forum in which members can market and position themselves
  • Access opportunities to serve on boards and advisory committees
  • Give back to the UK

BELS relies on Membership fees to fund our work.  Become a Member today!

  1. How do I become a member?
    Go to Join BELS and follow the instructions, which includes completing the membership form and submitting payment.  If you have any questions, please contact Nigel Gaymond:  ngaymond@BELSconnector.org
  1. What are the membership categories?

Primary Membership is open to accomplished individual UK expats and other overseas alumni of UK universities who are working globally in the health and life sciences. Additionally, UK-based life scientists who spent time in a position based abroad are welcome to join.

Founding Membership is a special category of membership that is open to individuals eligible for Primary Membership who wish to support the organisation at this early stage with fees that will cover BELS Membership for 3 years and assist the organisation in moving forward more rapidly.  Their championing of the BELS cause provides a leadership commitment to extend the UK’s heritage of scientific excellence in the spirit of collaboration, innovation and kinship. Founding Members have the option to have their names listed as BELS Founding Members in perpetuity (as long as their membership remains in good standing).

Affiliate Supporters are organisations interested in strengthening and expanding connections with BELS Members and the sector globally. Affiliates can generate awareness of their organisations with a global audience via the BELS website, at BELS events, and in The BELS Connector newsletter distributed to the BELS membership at large.

  1. What are the benefits of BELS membership?

Our expat life scientists cherish their ties to the UK and, with few exceptions, welcome opportunities to reconnect with their homeland.  BELS enables this talent base, along with other overseas alumni of UK universities, to build bridges into the UK health and life sciences arena.

BELS Member benefits involve access to insights, intelligence, introductions, and interactions, offering mutual advantages for our Members and the UK health and life science sectors:

  • Subscription to news about UK health and life sciences opportunities and developments
  • Diverse perspectives to facilitate global conversation about the UK health and life sciences
  • Links, introductions and connections to assist with market entry and expansion for health and sciences products and services
  • International collaboration and strategic partnerships
  • Connections to appropriate government services and support
  • Opportunities to impact exports, overseas investment and job creation in the sector
  • Shared insights and ideas
  • Increased knowledge flows involving market insights, trends, innovation, regulation, IP, reimbursement, ethics, standards, and companies
  • Connections and reconnections to other expats and overseas alumni
  • Opportunities to connect in-market and at UK events
  • Participate in surveys
  • Request surveys

Upcoming initiatives to enhance BELS Membership include:

  • BELS 2016 Leading Lights to celebrate British-trained life science talent abroad
  • BELS Forum for insights and interaction tackling hot topics of the sector at online/electronic meetings
  • BELS Speakers Bureau for members willing to provide thought leadership via a variety of speaking platforms
  • BELS Board & Advisory Committee Registry for members wishing to serve a more active role in UK entities

Depending upon member interest, we are exploring additional programmes as we move forward such as:

  • Job postings
  • Mentoring
  • Internships
  1. What sort of commitment is expected from BELS Members?
    BELS Members have opportunities to strengthen connections with other highly-accomplished British-trained life scientists across the sector, build business links, work together on health challenges, and bring international collaboration to a whole new level.At a minimum, we hope BELS Members will wish to keep abreast of developments in the UK by perusing The BELS Connector (our quick-read newsletter, published every 4-6 weeks) and BELS Brief Clips (very brief, top-line news items, published every 2 weeks). And we hope you’ll respond to our surveys, and that you’ll consider attending BELS meetings (in-person and/or online) that are of interest to you.The BELS team may present individual Members with requests for introductions or information; however, Members are under no obligation to accept such requests. You will control your own involvement.We welcome your comments, suggestions and requests. Your involvement in and support of BELS is an invesment in your community. Please know that we are committed to delivering programmes and activities that benefit our Members, their organisations and the sector in the UK and globally.
  2. How does BELS help expats give back to their home country?
    Membership of BELS is open to UK expats and other overseas alumni of UK universities who are working globally in the health and life sciences.  We provide a secure, strategic network where Members have been vetted and Affiliates respect boundaries managed by BELS as a trusted intermediary.Our expat life scientists cherish their ties to the UK and, with few exceptions, welcome opportunities to reconnect with their homeland.  BELS enables this talent base to build stronger bridges into the UK health and life sciences arena.Step 1:  Become better informed about activities in the UK health and life sciences arena. BELS frequently posts brief news clips about the UK life science sector that are published by various media outlets. Reading such  Latest News and our blogs will help keep you abreast of developments to benefit your business strategy and so you can spread the good word about efforts underway, progress being made.Step 2: Become more engaged.  Join BELS. Attend events so you can meet each other and key life science people and organisations.  When you find your BELS membership to be beneficial, please let us know. Your input will help inform our work and motivate us to do more!Step 3: Be more proactive. Ask BELS to provide connections and to assist with introductions to further your work and interests. BELS is a trusted facilitator working to mobilise the talents of our overseas health and life scientists worldwide to mutually benefit them, their organisations, and health and life science sector in the UK and globally.You will derive the greatest value from your BELS Membership via active participation, e.g., following the latest UK health and life science news, reading The BELS Connector newsletter and BELS Brief Clips, attending BELS events (online and in person), responding to surveys, feeding in opportunities, and requesting introductions (or reconnections) to BELS Members and targeted links into UK organisations.
  3. What are the benefits of being a BELS Affiliate Supporter?
    BELS Affiliates are afforded special opportunities to generate awareness of their organisations with this global audience of life science leaders, reach their target markets, and promote their organisations to the global BELS community.Premium Affiliates will be recognised additionally throughout the year on the BELS website, at BELS events, and in The BELS Connector newsletter distributed to the BELS membership at large.Value will be delivered to BELS Affiliate Supporters via a mix of pro-active elements delivered by BELS and re-active responses to special requests received from members.Examples include:
    – Insights, intelligence, introductions and interactions
    – Receive newsletter and blogs (to which you may contribute)
    – Participate in surveys
    – Request surveys
    – Post jobs
    – Submit news about your organisationYour organisation will derive the greatest value from your support of BELS via active participation, e.g., following the latest UK health and life science news, attending BELS events, responding to surveys, feeding in opportunities, and requesting introductions and insights.
  4. What are the benefits of partnering with BELS?
    – Exposure to a vast entrepreneurial and professional community that helps build, influence and collaborate on addressing compelling challenges in the health and life science sector.
    – Brand recognition throughout BELS events and projects worldwide, branding in BELS email newsletters, on the BELS website and BELS social media.
    – Build relationships that foster successful business partnerships; access innovative entrepreneurs and potential portfolio companies.
    – Advising/Chairing/Speaking opportunities at BELS programmes and events.
    – Strengthening the UK health and life science sector’s reputation and reach.
  5. How can I connect with other BELS Members?
    The best way to connect or reconnect with other BELS Members is at BELS events, which are designed to foster face-to-face interaction among the Membership and leaders in the UK life science sector.Additionally, Members may request introductions or reconnections to other BELS Members which the BELS Management Team will assess and follow up as appropriate.
  6. Will Members be listed in a directory?
    ▪Primary Members (expats and overseas alumni) will not be listed.▪Founding Members have the option to be listed.▪Affiliate Supporters will be listed, with a description of their organisation and a link to their website.
  7. Why not list all BELS Members in a directory?
    BELS operates within a set of Guiding Principles, as set out in our standing Pledge to Members . As such, the BELS database will not be shared outside the organisation. This is both to protect Members from being inundated with approaches and to exert a level of quality control over interactions. As a BELS Member, you will always control your involvement. The BELS organisation will act as a screening mechanism to offer you selective, appropriate opportunities for engagement, and to broker your requests for insights, intelligence, introductions and interaction with organisations in the sector and with other BELS Members. Your contact details will never be shared without your expressed permission.  For further details, please see BELS Terms & Conditions.
  1. How long does membership last?
    Initial Membership of BELS is for one year, with Membership fees renewed annually.  The exception is for BELS Founding Members, whose fees cover the first three years of membership.
  2. What will membership fees help to fund?
    Your membership fees go toward:

– Subscription to the BELS news flow: The BELS Connector newsletter, our blogs, news aggregation, BELS Brief Clips, reports, updates on UK initiatives, etc

– Programmes that build connections to benefit BELS Members, their organisations, and the health and life science sector in the UK and globally

– Events that enable international collaboration, stronger connections, and ultimately progress toward delivering better patient outcomes

– Public service announcements, press releases, event materials, and other communications

– Celebrating the talents and accomplishments of our expat/overseas alumni life scientists

– Marketing of BELS

– Opportunities to give back to the UK

– Maintenance and upgrades to the BELSconnector.org website

20. How do I pay for membership?
To join BELS, complete our online Membership Form.  You can then pay your membership fee, renewable annually, online via credit card.

We take the security of credit card data very seriously; BELS utilises Stripe, the leading secure online payment gateway, for all on-line transactions.  Click here to learn more about the technical details of Stripe’s secure infrastructure. All card details are encrypted in a secure host environment. For further information, please see BELS Terms & Conditions.

If you wish to send funds for your Membership fee via check or electronically, please email:  accounts@BELSconnector.org for full details.

21. Is membership tax-deductible? What is the rationale for a company to reimburse a member for the cost of BELS membership fees?
Membership in a professional association such as BELS that has a clear business benefit to the organisation is typically considered an appropriate business expense for tax purposes and reimbursement by employers. BELS membership benefits are especially clear for international collaboration, business development and knowledge flows.

BELS is a unique, powerful business network of UK expats and overseas alumni of UK universities who hold leadership positions globally in the health and life sciences, and a collection of Affiliate Supporters. BELS provides a secure, strategic network where members have been vetted and affiliates respect boundaries managed by BELS as a trusted intermediary.  BELS enables this influential talent base to strengthen connections to mutually benefit themselves, their organisations, and the global health and life sciences sector.

22. How can I get involved?

  • Join BELS.
  • Attend our events–online and in person.
  • Respond to our surveys.
  • Read The BELS Connector newsletter, BELS Brief Clips and our blogs.
  • Spread the good news about the UK’s strength in the health and life sciences.
  • Tell other Brits and overseas alumni who graduated from British universities about BELS and suggest that they join us.Please share with us your areas of interest and ways in which you believe BELS might be able to help you and your organisation. If you’re unsure of specifics, contact us to discuss and identify some possibilities.
  • The best way to keep abreast of BELS and developments in this thriving UK sector is to join BELS today.
  • Ask us for information and introductions to people and organisations.

Your involvement in and support of BELS is an investment in your community.  We look forward to welcoming you as a BELS member to benefit yourself, your organisation, and the sector.

23. How can I find out about BELS activities and future events?

  • Join BELS.
  • Read our emails, blogs, newsletters.
  • Check the Events listed on BELS website.
  • Respond to invitations to our events.

If you have further questions, please contact Nigel Gaymond:  ngaymond@BELSconnector.org

24. Who can attend BELS events?
BELS represents a professional network of health and life science leaders and influencers, hence our events are by invitation.

Events in the UK and in-market are designed to provide an environment in which leaders and influencers can meet and make or strengthen meaningful connections that benefit these individuals, their organisations, and the UK health and life sciences sector.  Therefore, attendance at BELS events is by invitation only, or by applications which are subject to approval. Registration is non-transferable. Events are designed to be relatively small so that the quality of interaction among attendees is valuable, lasting, impactful and memorable.

Events are intended to elicit unique insights into the key trends and dynamic people driving the health and life science sector. Each agenda is tailored to encourage collaboration in addressing compelling challenges in the sector.

25. Where is BELS based?
BELS is currently based in the UK in London. At this point in the organisation’s development, we believe it is important for the Management Team to be embedded in the sector here,  driving a UK response, making connections for members, planning events here, and driving awareness of both the BELS organisation and the value of our expats and overseas alumni to the UK.  Being on the ground in the UK at this time is important to forging stronger links to the valuable assets of the UK health and life sciences. For this reason, we currently collect BELS membership and supporter fees in GBP.

26. Will BELS share my name and contact details with others?
BELS will not ever share your details with others without your express permission.

BELS operates within a set of Guiding Principles, as set out in the pledge below. As such, the BELS database will not be shared outside the organisation. This is both to protect Members from being inundated with approaches and to exert a level of quality control over interactions. As a BELS Member, you will always control your involvement. The BELS organisation will act as a screening mechanism to offer you selective, appropriate opportunities for engagement, and to broker your requests for insights, intelligence, introductions and interactions with other BELS Members. For further details, please see BELS Terms & Conditions.

Our pledge to BELS Members

  • To inform you of developments and opportunities in the UK health and life sciences
  • To present specific tailored opportunities to targeted BELS Members
  • To act as a trusted clearinghouse for inquiries from all interested parties
  • To act as a trusted clearinghouse for speaking opportunities for targeted BELS Members
  • To protect privacy of BELS Members and limit access to them
  • To not share the contact details of BELS Members without their express permission
  • To quality control interactions with UK entities, to the extent possible and appropriate
  • To provide BELS Members with opportunities to engage with each other in-market and while attending events in the UK