I had the good fortune to attend the BIA/ABPI conference on the UK as a centre for life sciences R&D. The presentations were excellent and formed and interesting companiion piece to last night’s Horizon programme on the value still to be realised from the human genome project.
David Willetts, MoS Universities & Sciencesl, announced the lauch of the first 2 therapeutic capability clusters – these are focusing on immunology and inflammatory joint and respiratory disease. The clusters are built upon the principal of intergrating HEI, Industry and NHS R&D – something that the Nexxus community will be very aware of. The challenge is that Scotland is not represented (due to devolution of NHS funding). We need to ensure that the Scottish research community also plays it part, perhaps indirectly.
For me the most illumintating and inspirational presentation came from Professor Sir John Bell – President of the Academy of Medical Sciences. He layed down the challenge of how to develop a new model of funding that recognises that bridges the gap between fundamental and pre-clinical R&D.
I sign off for just now but will provide some more feedback soon.
October is an exciting (and busy) time at Nexxus as it’s the month when those who’ve been shortlisted for our Annual Nexxus Awards are sending in additional information for consideration by our judging panel, and the judges subsequently send in their choices of winners across the various categories.
This year is the sixth year of the Awards in the West and the second in the East and I can still remember the trepidation with which we approached the first Awards. Would anyone enter? Would anyone come to the Awards evening (the first was in the City Chambers in Glasgow) to help us celebrate the richness and accomplishments of the local life science community? Well, year on year the number of entries has built and the Awards evening has become one of the “must attend” events in the local life science calendar so it seems we needn’t have worried (but trying something different is always a bit nerve racking!). This year the Awards events promise to be among the best yet as we have two very influential – and inspirational – ladies giving the keynote speeches – Harriet Fear, CEO of One Nucleus Ltd at the West Awards on 10 November in Glasgow and Anne Glover, Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland at the East Awards on 16 November in Edinburgh. Not to mention the excitement of having the chance to see this year’s entries for our Life-Sci Visions Calendar (there’s still time to get your entry in by the deadline of 22 October).
The only negative aspect about the Awards from my point of view (and no doubt from Kate’s over in Roslin too) is that not all of the entrants for the Awards can be shortlisted, and not all of the shortlisted candidates can be winners. If only they could all win a Nexxus Award – because in my books they all deserve one!
But don’t be despondent if you didn’t make the shortlist or you’re not one of our Award winners, there are other Awards you can enter including :-
the SE Annual Life Science Awards - closing date 29 October 2010.
or, if you’re an SME, EuropaBio’s Most Innovative European Biotech SME Award 2010 - closing date 9 November 2010.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained…………… Good luck!
In a delayed reaction to the Young Companies Finance conference I came away with a couple of thoughts.
Firstly, there was an often raised issue that it is impossible to be a lean start-up in the life sciences, that the whole technology driven principle for product/service development is unavoidably costly. I do wonder if there are examples of lean life science start-ups in Scotland (or further afield), or if this can be applied to any particular segment of the industry? Perhaps it is the virtual value-add services that can fit into this category; no premises, little equipment and development or IP costs to increase the burn rate? With some creative thinking others have tried to offset expensive development by generating an income as soon as possible. Pharmacells is an interesting model, their Oricells product for harvesting and storing Blastomere-like Stem Cells from peripheral blood is designed for early income generation and will subsequently fund the more costly research and development of these cells being launched as commercially available non-embryonic derived pluripotent adult stem cell line designed to come online at a later stage. What can also help lower the burn rate, or simply increase the company value is engagement with the Universities and other publically funded bodies to tap into their resources. There are several schemes and mechanisms to fund engagement, used creatively this can be applied in a variety of ways to help a company in the production of an iPhone app, gain market intelligence, produce engineering solutions (not an exhaustive list by any means) or the more conventional life science knowledge exchange. It is all there, however, with public funding cuts imminent who can say for how long.
Secondly, the YCF conference had an emerging ventures section and I was pleased to see that life sciences related ideas dominated this section – all at the very bleeding edge of their fields and offering real benefits over current technologies. While Jonathan Harris of YCF maintains that this cross-section is more due to luck than judgment, if it can be considered a snapshot of the young company landscape in Scotland then surely it is testament that Scottish life science entrepreneurs are still out there. If these entrepreneurs, and others like them, found the financial backing required this would be very good news indeed. I did note that the majority looked to be very expensive technologies to develop!