The UK leads Europe for the amount of bioscience innovation capital raised in first-half 2014, and it remains Europe’s largest bioscience cluster, with more than 450 product candidates developed in 2013, says a new report.

The UK bioscience sector raised a total of £734 million in innovation capital during the first six months of this year, and also had Europe’s largest number of financing rounds (36) during the period, according to the new State of the National report, produced by the BioIndustry Association (BIA) and Ernst & Young (EY) and published at the BIA’s UK Bioscience Forum in London today (October 7).

2014 is set to be a banner year, as the total for first-half 2014 has already surpassed the £483 million total innovation capital raised in the UK for the whole of 2013, says the report. Moreover, European life sciences funding in first-half 2014 has already surpassed the £2.1 billion raised in 2013, it adds.

“2014 has been a strong a confident year for UK life science companies. This year, for the first time in many years, we’ve seen IPOs [initial public offerings] return to the sector. Companies large and small, academia, research charities, new institutions and the NHS now mix together in our ecosystem to make it one of the most vibrant and dynamic in the world,” said the BIA’s CEO, Steve Bates. 

“It’s an exciting time as the UK develops the therapies of the future. That’s why we are seeing global investment in the UK in genetic diagnostics, new approaches to cancer treatment, therapies for stratified and rare diseases as well as cutting-edge regenerative medicines and cell therapies,” he said.

“Since our last report, I’m delighted to say that the life sciences industry has started to make up much of the ground it lost during the financial crisis, in both the UK and on a global scale,” added Ian Oliver, executive director of assurance at EY.

“In early 2014, the UK AIM [alternative investment market] and main markets began to host UK life sciences company admissions, taking advantage of the positive momentum developed by US investors in 2013, including one of the largest biotech IPO fundraisings seen on the London market by Circassia,” he said.

The UK Bioscience Forum has also marked the launch of United Life Sciences, a new strategic partnership representing over 1000 life science and healthcare members across the UK and internationally.

Established by four life science membership organisations – the BIA, Bionow, BioPartner and One Nucleus  – United Life Sciences has published its Life Sciences Manifesto 2015-2020, whose three core messages to government are: 

- retain focus on strategically-important technologies such as regenerative medicine and synthetic biology, which hold great potential for the UK economy; 

- ensure a supportive tax and finance environment through continuing policies such as the Biomedical Catalyst, R&D Tax Credits and the Patent Box; and 

– support new flexible routes to licensing, evaluation, uptake and reimbursement of cutting-edge medicines and treatments to facilitate swift patient access. A centrally-funded and reimbursed Early Access to Medicines Scheme and full utilisation of the European Medicines Agency’s Adaptive Licensing pilot will be required to achieve this aim, it says.