CEO Update - 5 June 2023

I’m in Boston with over 200 UK companies at the annual BIO International Convention this week. It is great to see such a vibrant and positive UK presence and I’m looking forward to promoting the excellence of our ecosystem on this global stage.

Over the weekend I’ve had the chance to network with other trade associations representing biotech and progressing our global agenda – this year focused on the WHO's pandemic instrument developments and novel pricing mechanisms developing around the world. And it was great to kick off the week at the one nucleus pre BIO networking on Sunday evening.

UK message at BIO

As I’ve chatted with folk I’m sharing this core UK message I will be championing at BIO this week:

The UK is a small full-service ecosystem enough to be exquisitely networked yet large enough to be globally relevant.

This is most easily seen by how the UK came together against COVID-19 producing not only a globally vital vaccine but also generating pivotal trial data and rapid regulatory approval and rapid adoption.

A smaller scale of the same process was visible last week in the package of measures in our government's 'life science moment' responding to some of the key concerns of our sector.

Whilst NASDAQ is asleep London is waking up to life sciences

Something very interesting is happening in London at the moment as a serious structural discussion of where the nation puts its treasure for the next generation is played out in a somewhat hard-to-define discussion on productive finance, pension reform and post-Brexit freedom. Rather than riot about the age to draw a pension, as we’ve seen recently across the channel, the UK government is trying to ensure that money put into pension funds grows and delivers economic growth. The UK’s pension funds are getting larger – and seeing the returns Canadian and Australian equivalents are getting from being experts in illiquid assets like biotech stocks – so are taking another look.

The UK solution to the Silicon Valley Bank crisis was speedy and elegant

...and we now have a global prime bank in HSBC wanting to do more in life sciences. If ever there was a weekend that proved 'that which does not kill you makes you stronger' this April we lived through that near-death experience to come out the other side. We also ensured the voice of the sector was heard on R&D tax credits which remain extremely useful for SMEs in the UK.

Back at home – BIA contributing to the VPAS debate

Today we are publishing a new report Making VPAS fit for the future: the BIA vision, calling for the next Voluntary Pricing and Access Scheme (VPAS) to build on the spirit of partnership between government and the life sciences industry seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It identifies the key risk of the UK losing its status as a first launch market for new medicines following a period of post-Brexit political uncertainty and the unprecedented rebate rate for pharmaceutical companies in the current voluntary scheme.

We call for a reset between government and industry to deliver both taxpayer value and a fair return for innovators. The UK faces a stark choice – to be a welcoming market for innovative global industries that create value for the health system, or a commercial environment solely focused on cost saving, resulting in declining life science investment and reduced access to the next generation of innovative treatments for NHS patients.


Steve Bates Headshot.png



Steve Bates OBE
CEO, BioIndustry Association

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A high presence of global pharma company CEOs was complemented on the industry side by Dan Mahony, Lisa Anson, CEO of Redx Pharma and myself for the BIA, as well as representation from the ABPI and ABHI. 

On one level, the Council meets to ensure the delivery of the Life Science Vision (now two years old), but it also has a broader agenda to ensure our sector grows and thrives as one of the key pillars of the Government’s strategy for an innovation economy based on the UK being a science superpower. It’s a key moment when our industry and ministers come together to discuss the challenges and opportunities for UK life sciences, ensuring our industry continues to grow in the UK to deliver jobs and innovative new medicines for the NHS.

Dan Mahoney, Chair of BIA and UK Life Sciences Investment Envoy, Nerida Scott, Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation and BIA Board member, and Steve Bates OBE, CEO of BIA
Left to right: Nerida Scott, Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation and BIA Board member, Steve Bates OBE, CEO of BIA and Dan Mahoney, Chair of BIA and UK Life Sciences Investment Envoy.


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