Event Summary: The Buzz of Biotech Innovation at Bio Integrates 2023

“What a fantastic buzz,”

said Martino Picardo, Chairman of Discovery Park and conference Advisory Board Member as he opened Bio Integrates 2023.

Martino Picardo

In its 5th year running, Bio Integrates once again stood out as an event that not only showcases innovation in the biotech space, but provides the community with practical insights regarding funding, partnering, regulations and more by bringing together stakeholders from across the sector to share real life industry experience.

“This is an event for the sector to look at where we are, who we are, and how we’re going to get through the mess that the UK healthcare sector finds itself in,” began Martino. “But we’re a resilient community, and whatever gets thrown at us we tend to come back stronger.”

He left attendees with a question to consider throughout the day – “new companies need to hit the ‘tipping point’ where they start to run themselves – my question to you is what does your tipping point look like?”

A tale of three CEOs

With a packed agenda, the day began with three entrepreneurial CEOs sharing their personal experiences in starting and growing innovative biotech companies.

“I started my company in a maternity ward after having my child,” shared Vineeta Tripathi, CEO & CSO of Vitarka Therapeutics. “I’d been an asset leader in pharma for almost 15 years and taken two drugs to clinical trials, so I had the experience. But what made it possible was having a fantastic chairperson from day one who fully trusted and believed in me.”

Similarly, Camilla Easter, CEO of Oxford Medical Products, made her big shift while exploring biotech opportunities on maternity leave. “I’d become frustrated studying veterinary medicine, and I’d got involved in a project with a biotech team – it was fast-paced, different, every day was new,” she said, explaining how she’d become excited by a novel hydrogel product that could be used to address obesity – an area dramatically lacking in treatments.

Martino Picardo, Camilla Easter, Lydia Mapstone and Vineeta Tripathi

With a similarly unique conception story, Lydia Mapstone, CEO & Co-Founder of BoobyBiome, explained how her company began during her PhD: “we entered biotech start-up competitions and met with an angel investor who gave us funding while we were still studying.”

Sharing their journeys in raising funds, they addressed Martino’s question of tipping points. “What was really helpful for us was collaborating with a CRO – it gave investors assurance that the facilities and expertise were there,” said Lydia. Camilla and Vineeta identified points where they turned down funders that didn’t fully understand their companies, and instead went with fully supportive investors who really ‘got it’.

The three Ps for panel discussions

Addressing the factors that underpin a biotech’s success beyond the core innovation, the practical areas outside the science, and the future landscape, the panel sessions covered three tracks:

Platform, Planning, & Prediction


“It’s not just badly behaved molecules but shorter timelines to make them into viable products”

Session 1, ‘Formulations – what’s new and do I need to be there?’


Clare Trippett | Chief Technologist | CPI


Claire Thompson | Chief Executive Officer | Agility Life Sciences

Claire Patterson | Senior Principal Scientist | SEDA

Christopher Roe | Principal Research Fellow | Quotient Sciences

Frank Chambers | Director | Inhalytic

“The pharmaceutical industry has to deal with all kinds of molecules, and they don’t always behave as we’d like them to” said Clare Trippett (Chief Technologist, CPI), opening a discussion on formulations with a group of experts which potentially set a record for the number of ‘Cla(i)res’ on a panel.

Claire Thompson (CEO, Agility Life Sciences) outlined the issues facing the market: larger molecules and shorter timelines. “Bigger molecules are more cumbersome – more insoluble, less permeable. It takes a long time to manufacture them to the quality needed for pre-clinical studies. But investor milestones are compressing the time available to make them into products for the right route of administration, the right composition, with the best chance of success.” Claire Patterson (Director, Pharmaceutical Science, Seda) expanded on these challenges: “we’re getting into the realms of larger molecules with exciting therapeutic potential, but we still want patient-friendly delivery methods. Our usual techniques for predicting and understanding in vivo performance are failing us.” Frank Chambers (Director, Inhalytic) agreed, sharing similar experiences from work on inhalation formulations. “You can go through manufacturing processes and think you’ve got a molecule well characterised, but you put it into a drug product and everything changes.”

Looking for solutions, panellists discussed predictive models. “in silico models are really valuable to understand how a medicine is going to perform and how we need to adjust and enhance the formulation,” said Claire Patterson. Christopher Roe (Principal Research Fellow, Quotient Sciences) also praised the benefits of models, but emphasised the importance of in-human clinical trials: “humans are the best models for humans. The quicker you can get there the better.”

“You have to open the black-box and actually understand the AI to trust the decisions you’re making”

Session 2, ‘All aboard the data express!’

Andreea Iftimia-Mander (Director of Lifesciences, Biomatics) started the discussion on data science by asking the panel to consider why we’re collecting data. As reflected by Sheuli Porkess (CMO, Life Sciences, C2-Ai), this industry has been collecting data for years, but “now, more than ever, we have an increased amount of data available and we have the technology to actually use it.” While this is certainly an advantage, Sam Windsor (Co-CEO & Co-Founder, Ignota Labs) noted that advances in data availability can create challenges – “it’s a blessing for some data collectors and a nightmare for others because different data sets are collected under different scientific parameters.”

Looking at the diverse areas that data science can support, Martin Keane (Digital Innovation Manager, Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre, CPI) shared the perspective of a manufacturer – “throughout manufacturing we collect data at every process. Each individual bottle has a record, so there’s a higher quality product at the end.” From a different perspective, Raja Sharif (Founder & CEO, ATMPS Ltd) explained how data benefits cell and gene therapies – “with the right data, you can ensure regulations and approvals are met more easily.” Expanding on this, Raja suggested “we should ban paper altogether in cell & gene therapy because of the opportunities to digitalise and share data.” However, despite opportunities, the digital transition is often met with reluctance. “We work in an industry where people have their way of doing things. Start with quick wins and use that as a base to build a data ecosystem,” said Aiden Flynn (CEO, Exploristics).

Looking forward, panelists reflected on how data science can transform the sector in the next 5 years, pointing to precision medicine, early drug discovery, lower cost medicines, and tackling global health inequalities.


Andreea Iftimia-Mander | Director of Lifesciences | Biomatics


Sheuli Porkess | Chief Medical Officer Life Sciences | C2-Ai

Sam Windsor | Co-Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder | Ignota Labs

Martin Keane | Digital Innovation Manager, Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre | CPI

Aiden Flynn | Chief Executive Officer | Exploristics

Raja Sharif | Founder and Chief Executive Officer | ATMPS Ltd

“Investors are driven by the science – what’s your current focus and what’s your data supporting that?”

Session 3, ‘Do you need a platform to maximise the value of IP?’


James Fry | Partner and Head of Life Sciences, | Mills & Reeve


Richard Fagan | Director BioPharm | UCL Business

Bakul Gupta | Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder | ImmTune Therapies

Moein Moghimi | Professor | Newcastle University

James Rushworth | Senior Scientist II | Sixfold Bioscience

Fiona Marston | Chair & Chief Executive Officer | Erebagen

Richard Vellacott | Chief Executive Officer | BiologIC Technologies

Putting platforms centre stage, James Fry (Partner & Head of Life Sciences, Mills & Reeve), led a discussion on benefits, challenges, and investment opportunities.

Before adopting a platform, Richard Vellacott (CEO, BiologIC Technologies) advised to consider the benefits in terms of both your business model and ‘R2C2’ – “will a platform maximise Revenue, Risk, Cost, and Capital?”

Turning to the challenges, Richard Fagan (Director, BioPharm at UCL Business) shared his experience from academic settings and spin-out companies. “The challenge is maintaining focus on one application. You need to push one focus forward as far as possible to get the full data package to show it works.” Moein Moghimi (Professor, Newcastle University) raised the challenge of competition: “when dealing with big pharma, the problem is competition within the pharma company. They’ve already put huge amounts of money into the problem themselves and found it doesn’t work, and now there’s a small company with a new technology that they say does work…”

The panel debated issues surrounding IP. “If you want to develop value, it’s important to innovate, and once you innovate you have to protect it. That’s what gives you leverage,” said Bakul Gupta (CEO & Co-founder, ImmTune Therapies). “The challenge is when to file patents,” added James Rushworth (Senior Scientist II, Sixfold Bioscience) – “you don’t want to file too early before you’ve clarified your ideas, but you don’t want to wait too late and get scooped.”

Turning to investment, Fiona Marston (Chair & CEO, Erebagen) emphasised the importance of both local and global investors: “Your lead investor has to be UK based to give you credibility. But there are challenges surrounding the amount of investment you can raise here in the UK. You really need an American investor within your syndicate.”

“Does it address an unmet need?”

Session 5, ‘What makes the best platform?’

“In order to identify the best platform, you need to define what a platform is,” opened Brendan Fish (Director of Biologics & RNA Centre of Excellence, CPI) as he closed the Platform track with a discussion on factors for success. “For me, a platform is a production process suitable for manufacturing the same thing over and over, or a series of things,” he said, sharing the perspective of a manufacturer. With experience across the sector, the panel shared numerous interpretations of ‘a platform’, including genomic platforms, peptide library platforms, and software platforms.

“It’s important to think of a platform as a product,” said Debora Lucarelli (CEO, Enhanc3D Genomics), sharing her thoughts on what makes the best platform. “Does it address an unmet need? Is it going to make a significant difference to patients and clinicians? Does it make things cheaper, faster, or better?” she asked. Raminderpal Singh (CEO & Co-Founder, Incubate.bio) challenged her checklist of ‘cheaper, faster, better’ – “if you want to make a difference, you’ve got to change the game. It’s all about paradigm change,” he proposed.

“People,” said Krzysztof Potempa (Founder & CEO, Brain Cures), sharing his views on the best platforms – “it’s about finding the right funders who stay with you all the way, from the fundamental science to the eventual impact.” Steve Trim (Founder & CSO, Venomtech) added applicability to the list: “you’ve got a process that can be applied to solve a problem – now you can explore how your technology can apply to different markets.”


Brendan Fish | Director of Biologics & RNA Centre of Excellence | CPI


Steve Trim | Founder and Chief Scientific Officer | Venomtech Ltd

Krzysztof Potempa | Founder and CEO | Brain Cures

Raminderpal Singh | Chief Executive Officer and co-Founder | Incubate.bio Ltd

Debora Lucarelli | Chief Executive Officer | Enhanc3D Genomics


“Antibodies are part of our toolbox, we’re always going to need them”

Session 1, ‘Walking the antibody catwalk’


Alan Boyd | CEO & Founder | Boyds


Marc Wilkinson | Partner, European and UK Patent Attorney | J A Kemp LLP

Jolyon Martin | Co-Founder and Head of Business Development | PetMedix

Adrian Kinkaid | Chief Executive Officer | Fusion Antibodies

Fiona Dempsey | Director of Scientific Operations | Medannex

Carolyn Flanigan | Director of Operations | Absolute Antibody

With 50 years of research into monoclonal antibodies, Alan Boyd (CEO & Founder, Boyds) asked panellists whether antibodies are still a relevant modality with the rise of cell & gene therapies. “Antibodies are here to stay,” said Adrian Kinkaid (CEO, Fusion Antibodies), “one forecast puts 5 of the top 10 drugs as antibodies.” Sharing his legal perspective, Marc Wilkinson (Partner, European & UK Patent Attorney, J A Kemp) said the strong future of antibodies is backed up by the number of patents – and this increase in demand is seen across the supply chain. “We can’t keep up with demand for the service,” said Carolyn Flanigan (Director of Operations, Absolute Antibody), describing the huge need for antibody sequencing, engineering & expression capacity. Fiona Dempsey (Director of Scientific Operations, Medannex) emphasised the severity of this shortage of antibody manufacturing slots in the UK – “the government needs to actually listen to what are considered high value industries – there’s not enough support for UK manufacturing.”

Sharing excitement about the future, the panel discussed the diverse therapeutic applications of antibodies. Jolyon Martin (Co-Founder & Head of Business Development, PetMedix) explained the growth of antibodies in veterinary medicine – “the first antibody for dogs was approved about five years ago, and four more have been approved since – they’ve generally been very well received because they work so well.” Returning to human applications, all panellists shared hope for antibodies to address Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and infectious disease.

“I’ve seen a number of economic storms before, but VCs and institutional funders have been preparing for this particular storm for some time”

Session 2, ‘Growing in a time of drought’

Getting investment to grow your business is even tougher in today’s financial environment, and Jason Mellad (CEO, Start Codon) asked panellists about their experiences and advice. “Capital deployment is down at seed stage – in woman’s health there’s been a drop of about 75% in investment in the past six months,” shared Jenny Button (CEO, Emm). “But innovators love a challenge – don’t just innovate your product, innovate your funding strategy,” she advised.

Panellists agreed on the importance of selling your message to investors. “There’s a big problem in biotech – the subject matter is so specific and complex that it’s hard to sell your story to investors,” explained Michal Barski (CEO, Reciprocal Space). He called for a forward-looking approach: “it’s not enough to show where you are now, you need to sell the vision of where you’ll be in the future.” “Grant application is about the vision – you’re trying to articulate the potential and the future,” agreed Jo Derbyshire (Director of Grants and Tenders, Inventya Group), sharing her experience in raising grant funding for companies who need finance. Switching to the perspective of an early-stage company, Tina Flatau (Chief Business Officer, Sixfold Bioscience) gave advice for those at a similar stage: “be better than everyone else – not just technologically, but be street fighters in terms of how you run your business, your financial governance, and your ability to read the environment.”


Jason Mellad | Chief Executive Officer | Start Codon


Tessa Pugh | Chief Executive Officer & Co-founder | PharmaReview

Jenny Button | Chief Executive Officer | Emm

Tina Flatau | Chief Business Officer | Sixfold Bioscience

Jo Derbyshire | Director of Grants and Tenders | Inventya Group

Michal Barski | Chief Executive Officer | Reciprocal Space

“Build a culture that can be resilient to change. Fail early, fail ugly, fail fast, go again”

Session 3, ‘Tick tock, tick tock …’


Jenny Laird | Vice President, Search & Evaluation Pain & Neurodegeneration | Eli Lilly and Company


John von Benecke | Chief Executive Officer | Locate Bio

Nigel Brooks | Coach & Advisor​ | Lean Life Science

Will Brooks | Investment Director | Downing

Nick Smith | Regional Operationas Manager | Scitech

Craig Fox | Operating Partner Life Sciences | Oxford Science Enterprises

Once funding is secured, the pressure sets in to hit key milestones, and Jenny Laird (Vice President, Search & Evaluation Pain & Neurodegeneration, Eli Lilly and Company) asked panellists how to scale up and deliver milestones quickly.

The discussion stated with the planning stage: “don’t be entirely focused on milestones, focus on the value narrative,” said Craig Fox (Operating Partner Life Sciences, Oxford Science Enterprises). “You need the company to be exciting the day after you’ve hit the milestone, not just the day before,” he continued, “time is still your enemy, you have to be nimble and quick, but you must never rush.” John von Benecke (CEO, Locate Bio) commented on time pressures from a CEO’s perspective. “CEOs feel the time pressure. Things will go against you and you can’t predict what they’ll be. Learning to learn quickly is a key attribute of a start-up.”

A major topic of discussion was the importance of people and culture. “How much time do companies actually spend on the people side of the strategy? Are people at the centre of the strategy?” challenged John. “For start-ups, there’s a unique opportunity to build a culture strategy which will deliver the corporate strategy.” Expanding on this, Nigel Brooks (Coach & Advisor​, Lean Life Science) emphasised teamwork: “trust and team is absolutely essential – make everyone feel involved and communicate openly.” Sharing the perspective of a contract research organisation, Nick Smith (Regional Operations Manager, Scitech) stressed the importance of making CROs and CDMOs feel part of the team. “Getting everyone aligned as to the regulatory framework, the strategies, the intent, and the ways of working is absolutely essential,” he said.

Adding the perspective of an investor, Will Brooks (Investment Director, Downing) shared his advice for companies seeking investment: “Be realistic. Don’t allow your investor to dictate your milestones, but equally make sure you listen to them – they’ve been there and done it and have more experience of where the next round of funding will come from.”

“We’re not in competition. We all need each other – biotech, academia, CDMOs”

Session 4, ‘Managing your partners’

Exploring partner relations, Jo Craig (Senior Vice President CMC, NeRRe Therapeutics) asked how a small entity can get the leverage it needs in a partnership. The take-home message was that it’s not necessarily about the size of either partner, but the trust between them. “What matters more is how trustful and how reliable your relationship is,” said Roel de Nobel (General Manager & SVP Business Unit Solids, Aenova Group). Chris Davison (CEO, Custom Pharma Services) agreed – “we’re all human. Sometimes we make mistakes. That’s when trust is really important. You’re going to have problems, but if you can have an honest conversation, you can resolve the issues and move forward.”

From a different perspective, Rabia Khan (Founder & CEO, Serna Bio) shared her experience as a very early-stage biotech trying to find a CRO: “when starting a company, the biggest challenge is staying alive. That means you’re truly agile. Your programmes change. We’re responding to investors, we’re responding to the market, we’re responding to data, we’re constantly changing our needs. Finding a partner that understands your stage and wants to work with you at that stage is really valuable.”

The session ended with all panellists sharing tips for future partnerships – “It’s about communication. The most fruitful discussions are the unplanned ones. That’s where the diamonds come up. You need to make time for that” said Andy Clarke (Managing Director and Country Manager, YSDS).


Jo Craig | Senior Vice President CMC | NeRRe Therapeutics


Chris Davison | Chief Executive Officer | Custom Pharma Services

Roel de Nobel | General Manager & SVP Business Unit Solids | Aenova Group

Rabia Khan | Founder & Chief Executive Officer | Serna Bio

Andy Clarke | Managing Director and Country Manager | YSDS


“Design your infrastructure so you maximise the probability of those chance meetings that lead to collaboration”

Session 1, ‘Location, location, location’


Mayer Schreiber | Chief Executive Officer | Discovery Park


Toby Reid | Executive Director | We are Pioneer Group

Sally Ann Forsyth OBE | Chief Executive Officer | Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst

Rich Ferrie | Chief Executive Officer | London BioInnovation Centre Ltd

Nuno Alves | Associate Director, Innovation Management | Astellas Europe

Charles Walford | Director | Stanhope

With the whole sector working hard to get more science funding into the UK, it’s vital to discuss where this great science is going to happen, explained Mayer Schreiber (CEO, Discovery Park), leading the discussion on the importance of location to business success. Panellists considered what matters most when choosing your location. Sally Ann Forsyth OBE (CEO, Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst) identified her three top factors as “geographic location, scientific strength, and the ecosystem”, explaining the importance of grow-on space, reputation for excellence in the field, and a cluster that supports your needs at each stage of your journey. Rich Ferrie (CEO, London Bioscience Innovation Centre) added ‘the talent piece’ to this list – “you need the ability to recruit and retain high quality scientists.” Nuno Alves (Associate Director, Innovation Management, Astellas Europe) offered his three top factors for choosing a location: “It’s all about the people, the infrastructure, and the money access. As soon as you hit these three factors, you’re likely to have success.”

A key theme was the importance of flexibility as businesses grow. “You need the right space on the right terms, at the right time,” said Toby Reid (Executive Director, Pioneer Group). Sharing the perspective of the property developers, Charles Walford (Director, Stanhope) explained the importance of a long-term view: “If you default to the first location you can find, will it sustain you in the long term? Or will you step back five years down the line and find that it’s not doing it in the terms of growing your business?”

“We need to bring biology & chemistry to the models, not just stick models into biology & chemistry”

Session 2, ‘To AI or not to AI’

With Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies creeping into all aspects of our lives, Kevin Cox (Chair, Biorelate) led a discussion on the role of AI in biotech. The panel highlighted areas where they’ve found AI beneficial. Justin Bryans (CSO Early Discovery, Charles River Laboratories) mentioned the advantages in small molecule optimisation, with AI advancing design abilities and speed. Mark Hughes (Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Biorelate) spoke of text mining – “we use AI to understand the context around entities in text and self-learn synonyms for different concepts”. From a different angle, Joseph Day (Business Development (Data/AI), Cancer Research Horizons) explained the use of AI to find the right patient populations for novel drugs.

But with so much hype surrounding AI, speakers debated whether it benefits all biotechs. “You need to ask whether using AI is really beneficial for you as a company. Is the data there to support it? Will it actually save money and time?” asked Dean Plumbley (CTO and Head of AI, CoSyne Therapeutics). Daniel Veres (CSO & Co-Founder, Turbine) agreed with the need for careful consideration, and warned of the risk around developing AI from biased data – “we must build models that are representative of the whole human population.” Ending on a note of optimism, Joseph highlighted the excitement – “novelty is what gets scientists excited – the ability to unlock different areas is where AI really generates excitement in scientists.”


Kevin Cox | Chair | Biorelate


Justin Bryans | Chief Scientific Officer (Early Discovery) | Charles River Laboratories

Mark Hughes | Vice President of Sales & Marketing | Biorelate

Daniel Veres | Chief Scientific Officer & Co-Founder | Turbine

Dean Plumbley | CTO and Head of AI | CoSyne Therapeutics

Joseph Day | Business Development (Data/AI) | Cancer Research Horizons

“A partnership is very different to a tactical collaboration. What sets them apart is a willingness to work together to find common solutions”

Session 3, ‘Get it right first time’


Tauhid Ali | Co-Founder and Board Director | Oak Hill Bio


Neil Jones | Chief Commercial Officer | Aenova Group

Helen Barker | Vice President, Global Tech Ops & CMC | Reneo Pharmaceuticals

Joachim Luithle | Co-Founder | BioLink Intelligence

Justin Bryans | Chief Scientific Officer (Early Discovery) | Charles River Laboratories

“Pharma partnering is accelerating at pace – both the deal volume and value are increasing year on year,” said Tauhid Ali (Co-Founder and Board Director, Oak Hill Bio), exploring the traits of a good partnership with panellists from biotech and pharma. “A good partnership is all about alignment and a mutually beneficial relationship,” said Helen Barker (Vice President, Global Tech Ops & CMC, Reneo Pharmaceuticals), “we’re all working towards the same goal – getting a medicine for patients to the market.” Sharing a CDMO perspective, Neil Jones (CCO, Aenova Group) mentioned the need to understand upfront what both parties are trying to achieve from relationships: “does the company just want more hands, or do they want our brains?”

The importance of clearly pre-defined contracts was emphasised by all panellists: “the trick is to align your goals as much as possible in clearly defined contracts. Plan well in advance. Set it up so there’s clarity,” advised Joachim Luithle (Co-Founder, BioLink Intelligence). However, beyond the legal agreements, speakers agreed that a good partnership requires a true integration of skills and interests. “We don’t like to be called a ‘CRO’ but a ‘drug discovery partner’. We like to work with companies who see us as an extension of their team and involve us in the decisions and processes,” said Justin Bryans (CSO Early Discovery, Charles River Laboratories).

“Be creative, make every pound count”

Session 4, ‘Fishing in a bigger pond – how to reel in the money’

With the current financial climate, investment is a key issue for the early-stage biotech community. Nathan Sigworth (Co-founder & CEO, CCX) started the discussion by asking what to consider when investing. “You need a compelling proposition. You need to show you know what you’re doing, but you also need to be adaptive,” answered Bradley Hardiman (Head of UK/EU Search & Evaluation, Astellas Pharmaceuticals).

The panel reflected on the current market: “today we’re at the bust stage – this is a good stage for big funds with assets. If you’re an investor with deep pockets, it’s a good time to buy as valuation is going down. Innovation doesn’t wait for a boom cycle,” said Uzma Choudry (Venture Capital Investor, Octopus Ventures). “50% of biotechs don’t think they have enough capital – it’s never too early to start thinking about investment,” added Irene Graham OBE (Founding CEO & Board Director, ScaleUp Institute) reflecting on her experience in a life science taskforce looking to raise capital.

The discussion turned to the challenges: “the issue in the investor community is that they don’t understand the complexity of the life science sector – there’s a big education element needed,” explained Irene. Suzanne Dilly (CEO, ValiRx PLC) built on the importance of education, commenting that the lack of education is two-sided: “educating innovators is just as important as educating investors.”

The session closed with advice for the future. “What we’ve learnt is you need strong, deep-pocketed investors to go forward,” said Alex Brown (Sr. Investment Associate, 24Haymarket) who also emphasised the importance of good communication. “It’s tough at the moment – we’ve got to get through it, be creative, make every pound count – there have been tough periods before, and we’ll get through it,” ended Bradley Hardiman (Head of UK/EU Search & Evaluation, Astellas Pharmaceuticals).


Nathan Sigworth | Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer | CCX


Bradley Hardiman | Head of UK/EU Search & Evaluation, | Astellas Pharmaceuticals

Irene Graham OBE | Founding CEO and Board Director | ScaleUp Institute

Suzanne Dilly | Chief Executive Officer | ValiRx PLC

Uzma Choudry | Venture Capital Investor | Octopus Ventures

Alex Brown | Sr. Investment Associate | 24Haymarket

“We live in an era where you can speak to your cab driver about PCR”

Session 5, ‘Emerging technologies for improving drug and vaccine development for infectious disease’


Janet Hemingway CBE | Professor of Tropical | Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine


Juliana Haggerty | Head of Centre of Excellence – Lipid Nanoparticles | CPI

Clare Bryant | Professor | The University of Cambridge

Joshua Blight | Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder | Baseimmune

Philip Cruz | Country Medical Director, UK | Moderna

Looking back to the ‘virtual’ Bio Integrates of 2021, it’s only through the incredible COVID-19 vaccination programme that events like this are back in person. In the final session of the day, Janet Hemingway CBE (Professor of Tropical, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine) discussed the impact of the pandemic on the drug and vaccine development landscape. “In the pandemic, everyone got together and worked as a team – this is the learning and yearning for us,” said Philip Cruz (Country Medical Director, UK, Moderna). “Data from the ABPI shows that from 2017-2021 there’s been a 41% drop in the number of late-stage clinical trials in UK. We were 4th globally and now we’re 10th. This is a stat we can’t ignore,” he stated, emphasising the importance of increasing diversity in clinical trials – a focus at Moderna.

A key area of discussion was the balance and relationship between fundamental vs translational science. “If you don’t do the basic science, they’ll be nothing to translate. We have to do the basic science, but you need to think about how you’d translate it,” said Clare Bryant (Professor, University of Cambridge), who called for better communication between the translational and basic science communities. Joshua Blight, (CEO & Co-Founder, Baseimmune) agreed, stating that “you need to think about making things translational. But at the same time, so many discoveries are made because people just love science and are interested in it.” He shared his concept of a ‘birthday experiment’ – “on my birthday, I get free reign to conduct any experiment I want, no matter if it works or not, just for the fun of it!”

The panel debated the UK Government’s 100 Day Mission – a plan to reduce the impact of future pandemics by making diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines available within 100 days. “We can do what we can to speed up the areas we can control. There are things we can do that greatly reduce timelines and at least get us to clinics faster. Let’s keep making progress in the things we can control,” said Juliana Haggerty (Head of Centre of Excellence – Lipid Nanoparticles, CPI).

Ending the session, speakers addressed the issues surrounding vaccine hesitancy. “Vaccines don’t work – vaccination does,” said Philip. Clare’s solution is to engage in multidisciplinary research – “not just maths and science, but the social science and economics surrounding the whole programme, including vaccine hesitancy and investment.”

Putting the ‘integrates’ into Bio Integrates

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“With over 350 attendees, we were delighted to see the biotech community connect, share ideas, and form new partnerships,” said Life Science Integrates Executive Director Samuel Thangiah. “It’s not just Bio, it’s Bio Integrates, and we were so glad to see such a rich diversity of speakers, sponsors, and attendees from the entire biotech value chain,” added Christopher Watt, Executive Director, Life Science Integrates. “It’s only through connecting the full pipeline of stakeholders at events like this that we can get a fully integrated biotech ecosystem.”

Christopher Watt and Samuel Thangiah, Life Science Integrates


Event Summary: The Buzz of Biotech Innovation at Bio Integrates 2023