Cross-pond collaboration

U.K., U.S. biotech trade groups join forces to promote industry

Lloyd Dunlap
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—The three largest biotech trade groups inthe U.K. have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the MassachusettsBiotech Council (MassBio) to cooperatively encourage and promotecollaborations, partnerships and investments between the two regions.
 
"If we as leading cluster groups can't be innovative inharboring innovation then we're letting down our member companies," notes TonyJones, director of the London Biotechnology Network. "This agreement willfoster sharing ideas and best practices and getting to the end of the drugdiscovery and development pipeline as quickly as possible."
 
Tony Jones' London Biotechnology Network is one of threeU.K. groups that form the Golden Triangle Partnership (GTP) that signed the MOUwith MassBio. The others are the Oxford Bioscience Network (OBN) and ERBI,which is a self-financing, non-governmental, membership-based company servingthe life sciences and healthcare communities in Cambridge, the east of Englandand elsewhere.
 
"The Golden Triangle Partnership serves several thousandcompanies in the U.K. by providing members a networking platform that bringsthe life sciences community together to support partnering and collaboration inthe industry," Jones says.
 
The MOU outlines the organizations' commitment to facilitatecross-ocean investment and partnering by encouraging collaborations betweeneach group's member companies. Additionally, GTP and MassBio will promote eachother's investment and partnering events to their respective members, as wellas offer their members reduced rates to each other's signature events. Exchangeof company details, main contacts, pipeline information and licensing goalswill be facilitated.
 
Peter Abair, director of economic development at MassBio, notesthat the collaboration is partially a result of the down economy, which hasforced small biotechs to expand their networks of potential investors. The MOUis the first his organization has been involved in. It was born out ofdiscussions over the past year focused on how to use the two groups' historicconnections to help increase the flow of innovation. The collaboration will bemostly "people to people," he observes, with various events, investor forumsand annual meetings both here and in the U.K.
 
MassBio is a non-profit industry association with a staff of22 funded by members. As a registered lobbying organization, it receives nostate or federal dollars. Founded in 1985, it is the world's oldest biotechassociation, with 400 biotech members plus another 200 comprising academicinstitutions, research hospitals and service organizations involved in lifesciences and healthcare, as well as lawyers, consultants and other interestedparties. Fourteen foreign agencies are also members, including the governmentsof Canada, Quebec and Ontario; consulates of Greece and Brazil; and Japaneseand Scottish development groups. In addition to its educational efforts,MassBio also runs a purchasing consortium.
 
The U.K. healthcare market is the world's fifth largestpharmaceuticals market and is home to many of the world's leading clinicians,scientists and researchers. They are attracted by a world-class research anddevelopment infrastructure and a track record of bringing cutting edgetechnologies and products to market. Eighteen of the world's current top 100drugs were discovered and developed in the U.K. All of the world's top tenpharmaceutical companies have a significant presence in the U.K. and it issecond to the U.S. as the world's key life science and healthcare investmentdestination, attracting 26 percent of all pharmaceutical research anddevelopment investment in Europe.  

Lloyd Dunlap

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