Altacor chairman Andy Richards says future bright for biotech

A group of leading biotechnology entrepreneurs and investors have co-authored a letter to the Times to highlight the promising future for the industry.

One of the co-signatories is Andy Richards, Chairman of Altacor.

The letter reads

Sir,

As innovators, entrepreneurs and investors in the life sciences we welcome the Government’s support for this high-growth sector. Our industry comprises more than 5,000 companies employing more than 70,000 people and with a combined value of more than £50 billion in market cap. We believe the UK has the research base, entrepreneurial skills and venture finance necessary to be a leading hub of global biomedicine. Many of the world’s drugs, devices and diagnostics have been discovered here.

However, the growing time, cost and regulatory burden on developing new drugs are big challenges. For our companies to continue to invest in the UK we need sustained state investment in basic science, well-funded universities, strong infrastructure and an NHS open to supporting research and buying innovative treatments. Fortunately, that is exactly what this Government has committed to.

Some talk as if the UK’s bio-pharma sector is in decline. It is not. Increasing investor confidence and well-informed government policies are combining to boost growth. The comprehensive Life Sciences Strategy and NHS reforms,the introduction of the Patent Box to support UK intellectual property and a £180 million Biomedical Catalyst Fund represent real commitment.

Implementing the policies is of course vital, but these policies, with last week’s Budget incentives for investment including tax breaks for scientific spin-outs, start-ups, EIS investors as well as a reduction in Corporation Tax and the 50p tax rate, are having a positive impact on investment and growth.

Last week GSK announced a £500 million investment in the UK in advanced biomedical manufacturing. Four major new venture funds investing in UK life science companies were also launched last month.

These announcements are fantastic news for the UK and are driven in no small part by signs of long-term government commitment. We hope this is just the beginning.

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