MedCity CEO Sarah Haywood gives an overview of the 2016 Future of Healthcare Investor Forum
It was standing room only and a tangible sense of confidence at the second annual Future of Healthcare Investor Forum – a partnership between MedCity and the London Stock Exchange to promote the huge investment opportunities that UK life sciences offers.
The tone was set early by the ever-enthusiastic George Freeman MP – the world’s first Minister for Life Sciences but, according to him, no longer the only one as countries around the world rush to emulate the UK’s example. Leading the market opening ceremony and giving the keynote speech, he emphasised again the extent of Government commitment to life sciences which is, he said, “a high priority sector for the UK economy”.
Commenting that the first Future of Healthcare Investor Forum in January 2015 had directly informed policy development, Mr Freeman added that informatics and genomics were a particular focus for the Government, which wants to see the UK lead globally in these fields in both research and commercialisation – a key driver for the 100,000 Genomes Project.
And he reiterated his ambition for the NHS as a test bed for research: “every patient a research patient, every hospital a research hospital”.
In a packed schedule, some particular highlights were the panel session on IP commercialisation companies, a field in which the London markets have shown particular strength . An exceptionally strong panel included senior figures from Imperial Innovations, IP Group and PureTech Health, plus Frederick Bouverat of Invesco who commented that public market investors appreciate the due diligence and de-risking that IP commercialisation companies offer.
Another key panel focused on next-generation cancer therapies, with Immunocore, Midatech, Abzena and Oxford Biomedica all weighing in on the opportunities and challenges for investors from a ‘golden age’ of cancer drug discovery. Eliot Forster, of both Immunicore and MedCity, was typically frank in advising that the key to investing in his field is “identifying what is immuno-oncology and what is merely masquerading as immuno-oncology”.
Jim Phillips of Midatech, meanwhile, reflected on the centrality of leading universities: “We don’t have all the expertise in house, we bring it in and university partnerships are important.”
(It was at this point that several wags on Twitter noted their surprise that it took over three hours for the first mention to be made of CRISPR – a record in life sciences events!)
The morning was rounded off by a terrific keynote from entrepreneur and former Minister Lord Drayson who declared “Now is a great time to invest in life sciences and the UK is a great place for doing it”.
Thanks to everyone who made this event such a success, not least our partners and supporters JP Morgan, Numis, OneNucleus, the BioIndustry Association and Consilium Strategic Communications.
It was testament to the success of the event that both London Stock Exchange CEO, Xavier Rolet, and George Freeman called for the conference to an annual event in the life sciences and investment calendar. Consequently, we are already planning 2017’s event – in the meantime, watch this space for continued good news from the UK’s thriving life sciences sector.