July 15, 2009
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The UK has a new Life Sciences Blueprint that sets as a goal the creation of an internationally-recognized life sciences cluster. Here’s the press release and here’s the full report (pdf).
Innovation Pass and Changes at NICE:
The Blueprint kicks off an “Innovation Pass” program under which certain novel medicines (criteria TBD) will be available for a 3-year period without the otherwise mandatory predicate of review by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). A further report is due from Sir Ian Kennedy next week (July 22) that aims “to identify the aspects of value and innovation which NICE should take into account in its work.” If innovation stimulus is considered a part of the comparative effectiveness analysis, who knows how widely the door may open even after the Innovation Pass.
Between these changes and the recent report on genomic medicine from the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, which recommends that the purview of NICE be extended to “include a programme for evaluating the validity, utility and cost-benefits of all new genomic tests for common diseases, including pharmacogenetic tests,” big changes may be heading NICE’s way.
- The Government will invest £150 million alongside private sector investment, with the aim of leveraging enough private investment to build a £1bn, 10-year Venture Capital Fund. This is Lord Drayson’s idea that we held up at the time as a model for technology-agnostic lobbying;
- Along with a variety of educational initiatives and programs, the Society of Biology will begin to accredit undergraduate bioscience degrees to help ensure that graduates leave with the core skills and competencies required by employers;
- A reassessment of the UK’s various R&D tax incentive programs (A little tax joke for you there as a prize for making it this far down the post.);
- An £18 million program for regenerative medicine R&D; and of course
- A marketing initiative to make sure everyone knows all the great stuff they’re doing.
March 11, 2009
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Two bailout developments to report yesterday:
In the UK, the science minister Lord Drayson is championing a call by Imperial College London and the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh and Oxford to create a £1bn fund to finance the early stages of university spin-outs:
Medical research was given as an example, but Drayson is said to be pushing for the £1bn fund to finance ideas from all areas of science and engineering.
Here in Canada, the MaRS Blog posted yesterday about BIOTECanada’s Parliamentary Quarterly (pdf), which reiterates BIOTECanada’s previous bailout asks and includes some new data on the Canadian biotech industry, as well as some information on bailouts in other jurisdictions.
I would guess that some of the support apparently being generated by the UK proposal is due to the breadth of the project, with the potential to stimulate a wide range of innovative industries. With so many common needs and challenges among biotech, cleantech and high tech, I would like to see further collaborative efforts in Canada as well. Hopefully the Ontario Venture Capital Fund, which appears to be set up along the lines being proposed in the UK, will invest in all three areas and create a foundation for future collaboration.
Update: for some sense of common ground, see this NY Times blog post.