After completing a PhD in Biochemistry (1992) from the University of Southampton UK, Tony Jones undertook several years of post-doctoral research in the oncology field, primarily with the Imperial Cancer Research Fund taking novel neuropeptide antagonists into Phase 1.
In 1997, he moved into Technology Transfer with the Medical Research Council and moved to University College London, where he was business development manager at the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research until November 2003.
He then took up the post of director of Biotechnology & Healthcare at London First, managing the London Biotechnology Network and promotion of London’s excellence in healthcare research and delivery, moving the LBN from a primarily inward looking London group to an outward facing business network. In May 2010 Tony took London Biotechnology Network into the merger with ERBI (now One Nucleus) seeing this as the best manner in which to continue assisting their respective member companies in developing their businesses.
One Nucleus is a membership organisation for international life science and healthcare companies. It is based in Cambridge and London UK, the heart of Europe’s largest life science and healthcare cluster.
1. It has been a period of great change for One Nucleus. How has the merger with your London counterparts bedded down?
There was a great deal of support among London Biotechnology Network (LBN) members for the merger of ERBI and LBN to form One Nucleus. This is due to their belief that consolidation of the various networks and trade groups in the UK to deliver even better services at lower cost to the industry is a good thing. The merger is a significant change for LBN members, moving to a fee-paying basis compared to the free product previously paid for by the private sector business group, London First. A change that means LBN members and stakeholders are looking for the added value of a subscription-based model.
Several months post-merger, support for One Nucleus amongst ex-LBN members remains strong as we enter a critical phase of the new organisation that moves beyond the strategic ‘about One Nucleus’ messaging which we necessarily focused on during the merger announcement and new name launch at our Conference to the ‘delivery of value’ phase in the eyes of and for our membership. In truth, and appropriately so, member companies are not regionally focused. They care predominantly about the value added to their own businesses through membership of One Nucleus. The merger has created the opportunity for us to evaluate which products and services address that need and we have been working hard in recent months on this analysis.
2. Are there any similar plans regarding your Oxford partners?
No. We have our informal ‘Golden Triangle Partnership’ with Oxfordshire BioScience Network which remains in place. At the current time our emphasis is on consolidating the One Nucleus offer in light of the merger.
3. What are the benefits of operating as a Supercluster rather than a stand-alone membership organisation?
The term ‘supercluster’ is often over-used and misinterpreted. The One Nucleus strategy is clearly to be non-regional, although we remain London and Cambridge-centric in our activities of course and are proud of our heritage. The growing membership base from outside our own regions is testament to the greater value critical mass and economies of scale offer.
The quality and depth of membership of the consolidated group provides much greater leverage in attracting high quality speakers and delegates to our events, negotiating power with third parties on services and collaborations and enhanced opportunities to profile our members to their target audience – all of which enable us to deliver greater return on investment to our members on their engagement. Examples already coming through are the recent deal we announced to collaborate with World Business Research on the January 2011 BioBusiness Conference.
The deal saves our members up to £1100 on the cost of accessing a premier bio-partnering and thought leadership event.
4. What peaks are there left to conquer for Europe’s leading BioMed cluster?
I think this question has to be seen in the broader context of what is happening in the industry as a whole. There is a shift of Pharma R & D out of the UK and Europe, venture finance is limited and capping healthcare costs is high on the agenda of most Governments. Despite these factors, we see a constant stream of successful companies that are entering into financing rounds, alliances with major Pharma and developing business models that attract investors.
The challenges of containing R & D costs whilst increasing productivity in the translation of innovation into revenues remain there for our sector. A successful future for our sector will rely on doing business in a different way.
One Nucleus is and will continue to play a leading role in nurturing the debates and relationships among all stakeholders that develop new ways of doing business. Since the merger, we have delivered two highly successful one day seminars on the future of medicines research and technology transfer in the UK, each of which have generated an excellent debate and showcased innovative new business models. The next such event on October 7 will look at how these new models can increase capital efficiency in our members.
5. Are there any new sectors or countries globally with whom you feel closer association would be beneficial to this region’s development as a world-class BioMed cluster?
The industry is increasingly global in terms of sources of investment, innovation and revenue with emerging markets set to grow significantly in the next decades. The closest possible links with major trading partners, whether EU, North America or the emerging BRIC economies are going to be vital to long term success for our members.
We already have robust and formal relations with MassBIO, MassMedic and BIOCOM of which we are proud – as these relations deliver tangible support for our members when looking to access the US market. One Nucleus is also the legal entity for the Council of European Bio Regions (www.cebr. net) which brings us formal and strategic links with over 40 of the top European bioclusters.
6. What is the roadmap for One Nucleus over the next five years?
One Nucleus members represent some of the most innovative companies, universities and entrepreneurs anywhere in the world. It would be remiss of One Nucleus if the roadmap for the next five years was to be anything other than seeking to innovate ourselves in the relationships we build, services we deliver and engagement we offer our members to enable their businesses to grow.
7. How do you assess the strengths of the East of England cluster?
I tend not to think regionally about East of England in reality. The underlying strengths in the region remain as they always have done in nurturing that essential link between world class science, entrepreneurial spirit and an experienced executive pool with knowledge of how to grow companies.
One of the delights for me of the merge is that we have the opportunity to (and are) creating platforms for our members in the East of England to interact with equally world class companies in London and beyond – let’s not kid ourselves though, like-minded companies have their own channels and methods of making the right connections – we at One Nucleus feel we can add value through raising awareness among our members of who is doing what, when and where, thus increasing the chances of those like minded companies making the initial connection.
8. What are its weaknesses - or gaps that can be filled in this cluster’s CV?
There are, of course, the rising challenges for all regions in how to start and grow new businesses and secure a future pipeline of successes when public and private sector funding streams are becoming increasingly limited. I have to admit too that there is a perception on the wider stage that Cambridge itself remains somewhat parochial. Merging the leading networking groups in London and Cambridge is proving a great way to dispel that myth between near neighbours and the outside world.
9. Closer to home are there other services you want to add for your members?
As mentioned already, One Nucleus is constantly listening to member feedback and innovating in the services we offer to meet the needs of our members in the best way we can. There are already a number of updates to our services being considered post-merger so I can confidently predict that new products are likely in the near future.
10. Are there any upcoming events between the autumn and New Year that One Nucleus is promoting and how will they benefit attendees?
In addition to us now running regular networking events and seminars in Cambridge AND London, the next big activity on the radar for One Nucleus is the annual Genesis Conference. Taking place on Thursday, December 9, 2010, this annual event has been the LBN showcase event for the past 10 years and has grown from a relatively parochial ‘London’ event in December 2000, to now being seen as an established and highly regarded international life science networking conference.
Attracting over 650 delegates each year, 70 exhibitors, 50 presenters and awards dinner and with sponsorship from numerous UK and international cluster groups, Genesis is unique in maintaining a relatively informal conference and networking ethos compared to those highly priced bio-partnering meetings in the calendar. This enables the event to be inclusive and this is reflected in its continued success in enabling emerging companies, academics and stakeholders to attend and engage in the debate.