The UK’s BioIndustry Association (BIA) has launched a Fledgling Club to “support, nurture and assist” recently established bioscience companies. The Club will offer a range of services tailored to the needs of its members, including mentoring and advice on communications strategy or regulatory affairs.

Fledgling companies face a number of challenges in their early years, such as appointing the right people, finding and maintaining funding, and securing an intellectual property position, the BIA notes. The need for a tailored service was established through research by the association earlier this year.

BIA chief executive Aisling Burnand cited in particular the current tough funding environment for early-stage companies. “The goal of the Fledgling Club is to help create a sustainable bioscience industry in the UK,” she said, adding that the move would “further strengthen the BIA offering to support bioscience companies at all levels of development”.

Advisory committee

The association is backing up the initiative by establishing a fledgling company advisory committee, chaired by Catherine Beech, chief executive of Aitua, a UK company formed in June 2006 to commercialise intellectual property in the life science sector. The advisory committee members will act as mentors for Fledgling Club members and as the external champions for the Club.

The BIA has also launched aWomen in Biotech initiative to ensure there is a strong network for women in the UK bioscience sector. The inaugural Women in Biotech event is scheduled for 6 December 2007, with a keynote address from Louise Makin, chief executive of BTG plc. This is the first in a series of networks that BIA will launch over the next year.