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The Word on UK Biotech


Pharmaceutical Executive

GM's and investors find consensus in identifying innovation and productivity emerging from academia and small startups

When assessing the UK's dynamic biotech sector, general managers and investors across the board find consensus in identifying innovation and productivity emerging from academia and small start-ups.

Allan Marchington, partner, Apposite Capital: "The UK market is differentiated by the number of pharmaceutical companies that are based here, not only commercially, but more importantly through research operations. This has been a major driver of the successes we have seen come out of the UK. When you couple this with some of the world's leading universities with great science and entrepreneurial initiatives, as well as easy access to capital and capital markets, you end up with a highly competitive market. Nevertheless, the biotech sector is experiencing a very difficult period right now. Capital markets are not rewarding innovation the way they should be, and this is not due to a lack of new technologies and innovation, but rather is tied to investor risk appetite and perception of limited returns linked to drug approval and market access."

Deepak Khanna, managing director, MSD UK: "That is an advantage the UK has because of the quality of the institutions that exist here. The UK will continue to have academic partnerships because of the high quality of scientists, and the high quality work force skills that exist here, but I think we are going to see more of these collaborations and partnerships earlier on. This is part of the changing R&D model, vs. the traditional bricks and mortar R&D facilities."

Harren Jhoti, president and director, Astex Pharmaceuticals: "Whether biotech will drag big pharma out of the productivity issue is still to be seen. One thing that is certain though is that innovation was hot happening within big pharma, at least not to the level that is required. Fortunately the large companies have realized that biotech is something they are now absolutely reliant upon and are increasingly viewing the biotech sector as peers rather than simple business opportunities that they can take advantage of. I am hopeful that the biotech sector will help big pharma to come out of the current slump and the data suggests that innovation does happen in small groups. If the data delivers on that trend then we can remain positive."