The growth of Cambridge BioMedTech cluster companies in 2011 and the start of 2012 – both locally and overseas – indicates a dynamism and durability that belies the gloomy global backdrop.Yes, money is tight for companies seeking to raise substantial growth capital. And rationalisation by Big Pharma creates a further area of uncertainty in the broader Life Science industry. But every threat brings an opportunity and the most innovative players will not simply survive but thrive in the new era.
2012 promises to be a landmark year for the sector locally. That will certainly be the case for the exciting Cambridge Biomedical Campus, which is engaging with global MedTech giants keen to operate at the heart of Europe’s leading medical research hub.
Operating alongside world-leading scientists involved at MRC, Cancer Research UK and other key players at the Addenbrooke’s site, is a tempting prospect for medical device and drug discovery players globally – especially those involved in the two hotspots of oncology and stratified (personalised) medicines.
Relocators to the cluster can also stay close to Cambridge University and to genetics hothouse the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, which drove through the mapping of the Human Genome.
A global antibodies cluster within a cluster has developed at Babraham Research Campus. And the region has Europe’s largest community of researchers fighting cancer. In the field of stratified medicine, Cambridge has another strong hand. Companies such as Horizon Discovery, Lab21 and Population Genetics are all growing.
Pushing back the frontiers of research are young companies like Kymab and Bicycle Therapeutics while contract research organisations, forming a growing community locally, are taking cost and pain out of the drug discovery process for global clients.
Home grown successes like Domainex are ramping up their facilities locally based on growing international business. Larger international concerns like Dr.Reddy’s Laboratories, MedImmune and Pfizer are all scaling up within the cluster. The region also has innovation to burn in digital healthcare.
Harriet Fear, CEO of One Nucleus, the international membership organisation for companies working within the Life Science and Healthcare industry, is realistic about the balancing act the local cluster must perform in a critical year. She says: “There are a wide range of challenges to the Life Science and healthcare sector. Whilst it was ever thus, it is clear that the pressures are certainly not diminishing. There are several key concerns.
“Uncertain financial markets will act as a deterrent to public funds taking on what may be perceived as risky investments in small and mid cap companies. This may be a tougher effect for biotech than for medtech companies, though, where the latter has seen fantastic success in late 2011 – witness Sphere Medical achieving a successful IPO.
“Increasing competition from emerging territories such as China and India will heap pressure on Pharma to continue its Eastern shift of its R & D base – it is highly possible that jobs may go in early stage R & D here in the UK again. And because of the very large number of talented staff based in and around Cambridge in this sector, it follows that the region will likely be disproportionately affected if that proves to be the case.
“For some of the smaller clinical CROs, the Pharma shift to working with a select number of large CROs may mean they get squeezed out of trial sites and clients. Can they adapt and target the emerging and speciality Pharma group who may find they are given little attention by large CROs?
“But it is not all doom and gloom. A creative sector demands a creative response to the problems, and there are opportunities. Not least that the patent expiry cliff will continue to see large Pharma squeezed, eg: BMS Plavix coming off patent this year among others. This will likely continue the pressure on Pharma to be acquiring and licensing to fill thin pipelines.
“The outsourcing by Pharma to traditional CROs and technology providers will continue to drive market expansion for those with compelling USPs that offer a competitive advantage. And on the finance front, venture finance is showing signs of returning to the sector and hopefully this signals a trend that will continue in 2012.”
For One Nucleus, 2012 is an exciting year as it builds on its three clear objectives – to remain and grow the largest membership organisation for Life Science and healthcare companies in Europe; to continue to provide the best possible service to members; and actively support other networks who work in a kindred spirit.
One Nucleus is the largest such membership organisation by a long way with over 460 member companies and growing. The last year has seen companies join the family from as far afield as Canada and Australia and Fear expects this trend to continue as companies outside the UK are keen to have access to “the fantastic companies in our membership.”
Fear says: “While we are incredibly proud to be based in Cambridge and have a presence in London, it is vital that we think globally, just like our members do.”
In terms of service, Fear says One Nucleus “never rests on our laurels. The nature of the sector and the landscape into the future are ever changing and we need to constantly review and analyse our offer – and we do.
“Our Life Science Leadership Series is a great example of how we took the best parts of our traditional Cambridge Biopartnering Conference and have created a more focused series of Cambridge-based mini conference events – along therapeutic lines, with fantastic world leading speakers, the right investors, the appropriate business development folk and the right academics all in the same room – feedback has been excellent.
“Because of our size, our experience and our credibility we can and should take some calculated risks and we do – you won’t find us regurgitating age-old formulas for events – we always seek to be on the money, new and fresh.”
One Nucleus actively supports other networks who work in the same spirit of partnership; this also helps to de-duplicate activities among member organisations “which is something the sector regularly tells us it needs and appreciates.”
Good examples of this are One Nucleus’ support for the North West membership organisation Bionow and SEHTA (the South East Healthcare Technologies Association) whose members now benefit from access to the One Nucleus Group Purchasing Consortium. This is the longest running, most competitive and largest scheme of its kind offered by a UK membership organisation.
Fear says: “We save our members over £2.5 million per annum and want to share the benefits. By widening the offer to like minded organisations such as Bionow and SEHTA, this is not only a help to the wider sector in the UK but is also helpful to us and our members – the bigger the critical mass of companies in our scheme, the stronger our negotiating power with suppliers!
“2011 also saw us piloting our training programme in Manchester and London and this will continue apace in 2012, with us adding new courses along the way to the portfolio.”
Rowley Mile, Newmarket Racecourse
One Nucleus stages its dynamic and highly popular Bench to Boardroom event at Rowley Mile, Newmarket Racecourse on March 6. Gold sponsors are Fisher Scientific and World Courier and bronze sponsor, the Society of Biology.
Bench-to-Boardroom was established in 2006 and the one-day event includes a major exhibition, leading industry speakers, workshops and large scale technology showcases. The event will provide communication, education and networking opportunities for scientists engaged in drug discovery whether in academia or the Life Science industry. The event typically attracts over 500 visitors where delegates attend to meet suppliers with the best technology as well as to network with one another.
One Nucleus is offering academics the opportunity to submit a Scientific Poster FREE of charge to feature in the Poster Display.
The exhibition covers a wide range of suppliers to the industry, from equipment suppliers to providers of technical and commercial services, providing visitors with a key opportunity to source new suppliers and learn from the experts supporting the industry.
Keynote presentations include an opening plenary address by Sir Christopher Evans (left), serial entrepreneur and investor and the founding father of the Cambridge biotechnology cluster. There will be a total of eight workshops – each accommodating up to 20 delegates. The workshops will cover technological, technical and commercial issues, with the aim of educating and informing.
The plan is that as a result of attending, delegates will have increased their knowledge of how to do business faster and more economically, whilst retaining quality at all times. Delegates will learn how the Technology Strategy Board, in partnership with the Health KTN, has successfully supported Life Science companies and about the opportunities for you – this session will be hosted by Dr Tony Bradshaw co-director, HealthTech & Medicines KTN.
Delegates will also be entertained by a one-hour explosive show from Dr Hal. At last year’s event he brought demonstrations such as the Exploding Ostrich Egg, Manufacturing Liquid Oxygen, Chemiluminescience, YBCO Levitation and the world’s biggest N2O/CS2 Barking Dogs.
To find out more go to www.onenucleus.com/bench-to-boardroom-2012
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Harriet Fear, CEO of One Nucleus