The push to make the UK a hotspot for life sciences received another boost at the end of last week with the inaugural Future of Healthcare Investor Forum bringing companies and financiers together at the London Stock Exchange.

Hosted by the LSE and MedCity, a number of presentations by private and public investors were attended by an audience that included both generalist and specialist investors keen to tap into the potential the UK offers. Last year saw £1.25 billion raised in life science IPOs and follow-on offerings on the London Stock Exchange, the most in this sector since 2007.
Opening the conference, Cathrin Petty, co-head of healthcare investment banking EMEA at JP Morgan, said the UK “has all the right ingredients to create a successful and sustainable life science market: the science, the clinical development infrastructure and management. We now need the long term capital to fund it”.

There were presentations from companies who have successfully listed such as Clinigen, BTG, Retroscreen Virology and Circassia, the allergy specialist which raised £200 million through an IPO last year. Steve Harris, the latter’s chief executive, said that his financial advisors had told him that the USA was the only place to do an IPO and while there was interest across the pond, he chose the UK because the London market is supportive and has huge resources.

Firms that may be also eyeing a future listing displayed their wares at the forum, notably Immunocore, Acacia Pharma and Kymab, whose CEO Christian Groendahl, was effusive about the firm’s prospects. He said Kymab can be “the British Regeneron”, claiming that “we have the best technology on the planet”.

Harriet Fear, CEO of One Nucleus, said that “the UK is clearly a global tour de force in life sciences with the largest number of drugs in the pipeline in Europe, a robust and exceptional history and future of creative innovation”. She added that “of course it is the ancestral home” of the likes of blockbusters such as Humira.

The response from attendees was a positive one and MedCity chief operating officer Sarah Haywood told PharmaTimes that she wants to see the forum become an annual event.