CEO Update | 04 October 2021

Oxford Nanopore listing

Last week saw the public listing of BIA member Oxford Nanopore on the London Stock Exchange. As the Financial Times reported ‘Shares in Oxford Nanopore surged more than 40 per cent after its initial public offering in London. By market close on Thursday the stock was 43 per cent higher at 607p, giving it a market capitalisation of £4.8bn, up £1.3bn. It is the eighth-biggest listing in London this year and the third-largest biotech float globally in 2021.’

Oxford Nanopore is a true success story of the UK biotech and life sciences sector, a company spun out of one of our world-leading universities, led by a talented management team, incubated by knowledgeable investors and grown in the UK ecosystem to become a global pioneer in DNA sequencing – many congratulations to all involved.

Also, congratulations to Exscientia for their successful IPO on NASDAQ.  Another UK success story and a great achievement, adding to the already strong cohort of London-quoted biotech companies that are outperforming the broader market.

Upcoming consultations

There are three key Government consultations this autumn that we are seeking member input into.

‘Data: A new direction’ consultation 

The Government is consulting on reforms to the UK’s regulation of personal data. The consultation ‘Data: A new direction’ closes on the 19 November.  Chapter 1 “Reducing barriers to responsible innovation” is particularly relevant to our sector and the consultation includes a section on AI and machine learning. We are looking to convene a roundtable on this consultation: please contact Emma Lawrence if you are interested in participating and to respond to the consultation please follow this link.

The future regulation of medical devices in the UK - consultation

The MHRA is consulting on future regulation of medical devices, this includes reviewing the categorisation of Software and AI as a Medical Device. The consultation closes on the 25 November and the MHRA has scheduled a webinar on the consultation on 5 October. The deadline is  20 October and there are webinar recording available online.

The National Strategy for AI in Health and Social Care

The NHS AI Lab is developing a national strategy for the development, implementation, scaling and monitoring of AI-driven technologies in the UK’s health and social care system. They hope to hear from a wide range of stakeholders on the development of the strategy and have published the first draft online. The deadline is the 20 October and there are webinar recording available online. To find out more about the draft strategy please follow this link

Party conference season

It’s political conference season around the UK. I’m looking forward to telling the story of the Vaccine Taskforce at Conservative Party conference in Manchester this week.

I was interested to see the core themes of the importance of partnering with business and understanding future science trends in Labour leader Keir Starmer’s keynote conference speech in Brighton last Wednesday. His vision of “a future in which a smart government enlists the brilliance of scientific invention to create a prosperous economy and a contribution society in which everyone has their role to play” marks a clear and welcome departure from the anti- enterprise rhetoric and policy proposals that Jeremy Corbyn launched just two years ago from the same platform.

To hear the Labour leader pledge to “work with sectors in which we are strong. Pharmaceuticals, materials, defence, chemical engineering, consumer goods environmental technology, transport and biotechnology” and stress that he wants “to create the conditions in which inventive small businesses can grow into inventive big businesses” gives us a useful platform on which to build strong cross-party consensus for ongoing support for our sector.  It’s great for UK bioscience that all the main parties now want to make Britain a world leader in science, research and development.

Board elections

Voting for places on the BIA Board remain open this week, an excellent raft of candidates have put themselves forward for election and provided thoughtful and insightful candidate statements to support their case. Do please read, consider and cast your votes. It’s fantastic for our organisation to be able to draw on such a diverse pool of expertise and experience, and I thank every candidate for putting themselves forward. To see the ballot paper please follow this link