The UK’s chronic shortness of scale-up capital

Published: 12-Apr-2017

BIA calls for action to address this problem and and attract global management talent

The BioIndustry Association (BIA), the trade association for enterprises involved in UK bioscience, has responded to the Government’s Industrial Strategy green paper, calling for action to address the UK’s chronic shortness of scale-up capital and attract global management talent.

BIA estimates that £1–2 bn more of scale-up capital is needed per year for the UK’s bioscience SMEs.

To achieve this, BIA is calling for:

  • The Patient Capital Review, announced in November 2016, to focus on increasing the quantum of capital available as well as addressing the short-termism of some investors;
  • Citizens’ Innovation Funds (also known as tech ISAs) to open up opportunities for everyone to invest in exciting innovative companies that are developing the treatments of tomorrow;
  • Investor Visa Funds to target the wealth of high-net worth migrants towards companies that will have the highest societal impact;
  • Enhancements to tax-advantaged venture capital schemes to increase investment and follow-on funding from high-net worth individuals and institutional investors.

To address the shortage of top management talent, BIA is calling for:

  • Removal of the 5% share holdings limit for Entrepreneur’s Relief to allow recycling of talent and capital in the sector;
  • Benchmarking the UK’s entrepreneur and management talent incentives against international comparators to ensure the UK remains attractive to foreign and expat talent;
  • Business and entrepreneurial training integrated into academic courses and post-doctoral training;
  • The BIA is also expanding its own support for schools outreach to inspire the entrepreneurs of tomorrow and promoting management mentoring schemes.

CEO Steve Bates said:

“We need to achieve a sea change in the quantum of capital available to bioscience companies. I hope this will be a core objective of the Patient Capital Review, alongside addressing the short-termism of some investors.”

In its submission, the BIA says that the UK is in a strong position to close the gap on the leading life science clusters in Boston and the San Francisco Bay area.

Oxford Nanopore recently sent its DNA sequencing technology into space with astronaut Tim Peak and Novabiotics, in Aberdeen, is developing new medicines to tackle difficult-to-treat diseases and contribute to the global battle against antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

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