UK has strongest drugs development pipeline in Europe, reveals BIA research

Lucy White
Biotechnology UK VC BIA
UK biotech companies also received more VC funding than anywhere else in Europe (Source: Getty)

The UK has the strongest clinical pipeline in Europe, according to a new report, with more drug products in the clinical development phase than anywhere else in Europe.

The study, from the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA), also shows that the country ranked ahead of its European peers in the amount of biotech venture capital (VC) investment it received last year.

A total sum of £1.13bn was raised by UK-based biotech companies, with £681m coming from VC funding, £105m from IPO activity and £344m from other public financing.

“The UK continues to be the strongest performer in Europe, and it continues to build towards becoming the third global biotech cluster,” said BIA chief executive Steve Bates.

San Francisco and Massachusetts are currently comfortably ahead of the UK as biotech hotspots, with both attracting more than £1.5bn each in VC funding last year.

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The success comes despite news that the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the European Union's drugs standards watchdog, will leave its London headquarters post-Brexit.

The EU today confirmed it would give member-state cities until July to submit bids to home the EMA, amid reports that European Council president Donald Tusk and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker had circulated criteria and ground rules for a vote by EU ministers.

BIA's data also reveals that, post-Brexit, more than half of the biotech capital raised for VC investment will be deployed outside the EU if current trends continue.

VC fundraising in the UK did shift to later stage during 2016, with £275m raised in post-series B fundraises as opposed to £110m a year prior.

Series A hauls fell, although the amount of seed funding raised increased by £3m to £14m.

The public markets also saw some strong biotech activity, as Shield Therapeutics raised £32.5m through its initial public offering on the Alternative Investment Market (Aim).

The number of biotech financings through Aim rose year-on-year, from 130 in 2015 to 175 in 2016.

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