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Bringing the UK life sciences industry to life

A A few years Previously, American venture capitalist Seth Harrison was trying to open an office in Europe. The choice ended up in England or Switzerland. “I’m pretty familiar with the whole thing England “The biotechnology scene,” he recalls. “The wonderful research fermentation that takes place in the Golden Triangle. As you know, London, Cambridge, Oxford … and I said,” Wow, this reminds me of Cambridge, Massachusetts 25 years ago. “

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The covid-19’s response to the pandemic highlighted its research capabilities. And many believe that the world is at the pinnacle of the “biological century” driven by biotechnology innovation. On April 29, Health Minister Matt Hancock addressed the government’s desire to transform Britain into a “life science superpower.” It already exists by some means. Only American scientists are quoted higher.

But the UK is struggling to create superstars, or half-baked companies to build clusters. “Why aren’t there any regenron or Gilead companies? Given the quality of science, this is a fair question,” said McKinsey consultancy Matthias Evers. Last year, a British company raised £ 1.4 billion ($ 2 billion) in venture capital. This is more than anywhere else in Europe. Much less than American hubs Massachusetts (£ 4.7 billion) and San Francisco (£ 4.5 billion).

Companies looking to the public market tend to cross the Atlantic, fascinated by higher-rated promises. Recent ones include Immunocore (developing drugs for cancer, infectious diseases and autoimmune diseases) and Vaccitech (spin-off from Jenner Institute in Oxford, fame of the covid-19 vaccine). “We are watching England Biotechnology thrives, “says Alistair Campbell, an investment bank at Liberum. “It’s not always on the list. England Stock market. “

The numbers indicate that the pipeline is being replenished.The· England The BioIndustry Association found that last year’s biotechnology companies raised a total of £ 2.8bn. This is an increase from an average of £ 1.6 billion over the last three years. This reflects both global growth and optimism about local strengths in cells and gene therapy and genetics. Financial services provider Legal & General Samantha Roberts says the country provides investors with “quite unfished water.”

These waters fascinated Harrison’s company, Apple Tree Partners. He says it took longer than expected to hire staff. England We need more people on the industry side. They are currently in place and the company hopes to announce some investments this year. “Ambition, pace and scale have recovered,” says Andy Richards, a veteran UK investor.

Successive governments have tried to achieve this using tax incentives and investments, but with some success before the pandemic. Investors are now expecting to spend in new areas. “You have this … concerns about supply sovereignty,” says Roberts. “You start thinking,’Wait a minute, there will be a big manufacturing base here to build.'”

The government also wants to improve the invisible part of the country’s infrastructure. The UK is currently conducting some late-stage trials. Government documents recovery A trial that clarified two treatments for covid-19 by streamlining the study and incorporating it into medical services (a further paper will explain the exact method). Hancock hopes to recreate the rapid regulation seen during the approval of the covid-19 vaccine and make healthcare services a more enthusiastic purchaser of new therapies.

Many barriers to overcome, from the fact that many trials have been put on hold over the past year, to what an investor calls the “soul inertia” of British scientists regarding the financial use of discoveries. there is. But insiders are optimistic. Sir John Bell, who advises the government on life sciences and chairman of Immunocore, said: “We are confident that we can build a substantial new industry from scratch.” The next few years will show whether private funding and government efforts can do just that. ■■

This article was published in the UK section of the printed version under the heading “New Employees”.

Bringing the UK life sciences industry to life

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