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The BioIndustry Association (BIA) welcomes the introduction of a £750 million Strategic Investment Fund for emerging technologies, including biotech, announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Budget today.
The fund is designed to “…promote research and development and harness commercially our world-class science base”.
This could make a significant contribution to supporting and building a successful and sustainable bioscience sector in the UK. The BIA is currently seeking further information on the mechanism for the fund and the amount accessible to bioscience companies.
The Government also announced the launch of a “…review to consider whether, and in what form, further intervention could increase the supply of long-term growth capital to small and medium sized businesses. This will include options for a Public-Private Partnership similar to the predecessor of 3i, the Industrial and Commercial Finance Corporation, leveraging private sector capital to address gaps in growth finance and risk capital.” The BIA will be participating fully in this review.
Also announced today are Treasury plans to explore the tax treatment of Intellectual Property to enhance the competitiveness of the UK, and will “…consider evidence for changes to the way the tax system encourages innovative activity and the relative attractiveness of the UK to global firms as they make decisions on where to locate their R&D and other innovation activities”.
Further consultation with industry is planned ahead of the Government’s presentation of its assessment and proposed approach before the Pre-Budget Report. Such an initiative, if implemented, would help to retain and encourage bioscience activity in the UK.
The BIA has been actively engaging with Government on proposals for an Innovation Fund and IP Patent Box through its work with the Office for Life Sciences. These ideas were originally proposed in the Bioscience Innovation and Growth Team’s Review and Refresh of Bioscience 2015 published in January 2009.
Dr Clive Dix, BIA Chairman, said: “The Government has long proclaimed the importance of the UK’s bioscience sector and the BIA is encouraged to see indications of support for companies in these challenging times.
“The BIA has been working alongside the Office for Life Sciences to develop a number of initiatives including an innovation fund, and changes to the taxation of intellectual property. The small and medium sized companies that make up the bioscience sector in the UK have been hit hard by the current financial crisis.
“We have highlighted the need for a high-tech investment fund. The BIA will be reviewing the fund detail, including the mechanism and the amount accessible to bioscience, to ensure companies in our sector are swiftly able to benefit. It is essential that the fund is now implemented rapidly.”