In News, North East News

Martin Inskip of MSD says that they have won a contract over Singapore since we are cheaper and there will be $20 million invested on a continuous processing plant.

Phil Aldridge of NEPIC announced the NEPIC NE University Showcase Event: Facilitating Collaboration & Enhancing Industrial Innovation, to be held on 22 Sept 2015. This huge event involves all the universities in all relevant disciplines.

There are now four life sciences catapults around the country.
Michael Whitaker announced that Cambridge as will the HQ of the Precision Medicine Catapult. The Catapult in Medicines Technologies will be hosted at Alderley Park in Cheshire. This Medicines Technology Catapult will involve “machines” and the life sciences, for example our own QuantuMDx.

The life sciences sector’s national importance is further reflected in the UK having a dedicated Minister for Life Sciences, George Freeman.

Catapults are is not just about science; they are about risk mitigation; about establishing the most appropriate quality requirements for medicines technologies, and the best regulatory framework for instance choosing that diagnostics machines take the route to a CE mark. Innovation is starting to be recognised as being the fight for exploitation of invention. Further, there is a focus on small businesses and local businesses getting more innovation money as must companies that are not in the golden triangle.

Fawdon Life Science BioPark will open doors on 1 January 2016.
Ian Shott stood in for Mike Delroy to announce that after a rigorous process and agreement on heads of terms, and discussions with the council and the North East LEP, Discovery Park will run the Fawdon site as grow-on life science biopark. Shott Trinova has helped create the vision and the master plan. Discovery Park run the Sandwich site in Kent, which used to house Pfizer.

Fawdon is not a greenfield site, it was a secondary manufacturing site for Sanofi Aventis with millions of dollars spent on it over the last decade. August sees a proper handover transition and Sanofi will complete the clean-up and decontamination by the end of the year. It was always intended that the region retains high grade employment in the region. A third of the site will be used to for generic drugs manufacturing. For the rest, they could sell the space in the new Fawdon Science Park three times over! The most distinctive use of the site will be to provide grow on space for young ambitious life sciences companies. The existing office block will be converted to more laboratories and Discovery Park is looking to spend capital as there is space for expansion.

A specialist life sciences secondary school for 14 to 19 year olds in Newcastle upon Tyne.
Alison Shaw asks for industry participation in this University Technical College model school – a specialist life sciences secondary school for 14 to 19 year olds in Newcastle upon Tyne – opening predicted for September 2017.

There will be 150 students in each year group and these will be drawn from 12 local authorities – minimising the competition with existing high schools. The goal is highly skilled highly engaged students. They will have longer days and a longer term to fit in national curriculum, the softer skills, and the enrichment material that will allow them to go straight into employment and advanced technical and commercial apprenticeships, or to university if they wish.

Michael Whitaker is on the school’s steering group. This school will use the UTC model – a school designed and run by employers, it will be one of over 30 such UTCs around the country. The pharma companies and industry are being asked to get involved. Besides curriculum development the school will need role models from the world of work.

This topic led to an animated conversation amongst members about: competence and inspirational nature of teachers, recruitment through focused events for teachers or having young graduates (engineers) go to talk at schools, the school intends to have an employer support group because small business and large business involvement must be approached differently.

The point was made that the STEM ambassador program which currently exists is a very good one and companies can usefully participate.

Introducing IP group’s Duncan Lowery.
IP group funds companies from very early stage to maturity – these are venture capitalists who probably invented the phrase patient capital as they will remain involved for a long time. In the North East Glythera is one of those that they have funded. Another is IBEX Innovations in Sedgefield at NetPark which is looking to get their technology into medical applications. The North East is a good region because you can get to meet everyone really quickly!

IP group see themselves as business builders. It takes time to build a success story but you only a few successes for the region to explode.
They started exploiting IP with Cambridge and are now working with 16 universities in the UK. They manage some Jeremie funds and these come to an end they hope to continue this for Jeremie 2.

Over the past seven years biotechnology growth has outstripped every other sector on American stock markets – are we seeing a bio-bubble? Or will changes in licensing i.e. conditional licensing, continue to allow us to “do pharma differently”?

On the question of reasons for failure, there was this:
People just run out of cash – they get the funding strategy wrong. They overpromise. Don’t even have time to raise further funds. The product centric focus – getting the product perfect but don’t have the skills to get the product to market. Strategy wrong and then tried a new strategy but ran out of time and money.

IP group like to get strategies to fail early then get the evidence and change.

Pharma industry is moving from products that sell themselves – now customers need reasons to buy, like good price and good delivery.

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