9 December, 2019 - 08:46 By News Desk

Triangles, Powerhouses, Corridors and Arcs

Many phrases and tag lines have become commonplace in promoting the excellence and potential of the UK Life Sciences sector to create better patient outcomes and wealth creation, writes Tony Jones, CEO of One Nucleus

There will be strong representation at Genesis on December 11 from areas such as the Golden Triangle, Northern Powerhouse and various Corridors linked with driving success. 

Of course, to those outside the sector, the meanings of these phrases often have differing connotations such as Golden Triangle with illicit drugs and Powerhouse with Marvel Comics whilst promoted Arcs and Corridors frequently have only a passing resemblance to such shapes in reality. 

Nevertheless, taking such poetic licence cannot mask the success stories of the past, present and (hopefully) future that is UK Life Sciences. Such terminology can be very effective in aligning a call to action or policy for investment and taking such poetic licence can perhaps be justified.

Since its launch in 2001, Genesis has seen the exhibit hall contain regional and national representations from across the UK and internationally. 2019 is no different with a healthy mix. 

What is different this year is that the East of England stakeholders have become the first ever to bring a ‘super-regional’ presence, sponsored by Mills & Reeve to include 20 exhibitors from across the R & D, technology, science park, business enablers and economic development policy groups. 

The East of the UK can only be viewed as a powerhouse by almost any metric, whether it’s the >£1Bn private investment over the past 18 months, 17 per cent employment growth and 37 per cent business growth since 2012 or it’s highly skilled labour market with 44 per cent qualified to degree level or above. 

Coupling this with the proximity and access to the London financial sector with its colossal academic medical research base and global connectivity then it’s little wonder why so many of us feel confident in the potential for future success. 

Showcasing in the exhibit hall, and open to helping you navigate this world class region, are organisations that include Mills & Reeve, Harlow Science Park, Discovery Park, Quadram Institute, Norwich Research Park, Public Health England, Babraham Research Campus, London Stansted Airport, Wellcome Genome Campus, Kao Data, Emirates, Radisson Hotels, Cambridge Network, Eastern AHSN, Milner Therapeutics Institute, Cambridge Wireless (CW), The UK Innovation Corridor, Form the Future and The Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor. Of course, One Nucleus will be there too!

There is a strong showing in the final of the 2019 BioNewsRound Award sponsored by Fish & Richardson too with Astex Therapeutics, AstraZeneca, Domainex and Healx all making the final and will be presenting to win votes in the day. 

Astex is celebrating the FDA Marketing Approval of the second drug BALVERSA™ (erdafitinib) from their Janssen collaboration started in 2008. AstraZeneca entered the news of their rapidly executed mega deal with Daiichi Sankyo to accelerate development of the HER2-targeting antibody-drug conjugate trastuzumab deruxtecan involving a $3.5Bn equity placement. 

Domainex reported ground-breaking news from its collaboration with Imperial College where they have identified a potential new drug, by targeting the MAP4KA protein, to treat damage caused by a heart attack using a stem cell derived muscle cell platform. 

Healx celebrate their $56M Series B financing that will enable them to launch their global accelerator programme for rare diseases, a step that may dramatically address serious unmet needs in those patients.

Absolutely there have been numerous great new developments and related news stories that could equally have made their way into the final such as the growing success of Inivata, Crescendo Biologics, Artios, CMR, Ieso Digital Health, Congenica, Eagle Genomics, Procarta Biosystems, Pfizer and more. It’s been a fantastic year in the east of the UK and perhaps more will follow the unicorn status established by CMR in 2019. 

The success is driven by a world-leading science and technology research base which successive governments have continued to show commitment to and with political champions such as George Freeman, Matt Hancock and Daniel Zeichner all proponents of translating great science into better patient outcomes via the NHS, then I feel the region will continue to have a strong voice in political circles when the current dust settles. 

It doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be challenges ahead. Brexit, and whatever the on-going political and trade negotiations that follow, global market turbulence, US-China trade policy and more will all inevitably impact every sector, including Life Sciences. 

This sector has proven to be resilient, evidenced by the stream of success mentioned above in these uncertain times. Attracting significant capital and corporate deals from both US and Asia should continue given it is the quality of the innovation pipeline that has created the momentum we currently see. 
We cannot, and will not, rest on our laurels. One Nucleus, with the stakeholders mentioned above, has stepped up its activities and investment in promoting our members and the region. This to further engage current and potential international investors, business partners and talent. 

At a time when geopolitical factors could hinder progress in all aspects of translating new biopharma, med tech and healthcare innovation into patient benefit and economic growth, we feel it is vital to ensure the excellence and opportunity here for scientists, technologists, entrepreneurs and investors is in the global shop window. 

This is true when we showcase at international events in US and Europe but it is equally important that we do this on our own doorstep. To this end, I am delighted to see the regional presence at Genesis 2019 on 11 December in London take this to a new level over previous years.

Irrespective of what geometric shape we would like to describe our areas in, there is no doubt the excellence of our region will continue to form the future on a global scale.  

Genesis 2019 programme

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