BioFocus 2024

Events | By: James Clemens | | 2 minute read.
BioFocus

BioFocus 2024 

Last week marked this years BioFocus event hosted by Bionow at The Catalyst, Newcastle Helix and attended by James Clemens, Ronnie Anderson & Austin Clark.

Write up from James Clemens, Group Marketing Manager.

As an attendee at this year’s bustling and dynamic BioFocus, I was thrilled to see such a fantastic turnout. With 140 delegates, speakers, and panellists, along with 21 exhibitors, it was an exceptional opportunity to delve into the latest technologies, innovations, key sector initiatives, and funding opportunities.

The excitement kicked off the night before at the special conference edition of Biotech & Beers. This well-attended networking event was invaluable, especially for out-of-town attendees like myself, providing a relaxed atmosphere to connect with colleagues from Newcastle and the wider Northeast before diving into the main event. A notable conversation being with the Pulmo BioMed Founder & CEO Prof. Sterghios Moschos

The agenda was packed with engaging topics, all centred around accelerating the growth of the life sciences sector in our region. We explored the latest developments in diagnostics, showcased industry advancements, and discussed the future of therapies.

The three keynote speakers left a lasting impression. David Nixon, Senior Investment Manager at Maven Capital Partners, opened with insights from an investor’s perspective. He explained how the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund II can support ambitious SMEs in the Northeast life sciences sector, covering aspects like research, recruitment, sales and marketing, and working capital. Nixon’s talk highlighted the importance of different funding types at various business stages and what investors seek in potential ventures, emphasising a clear value proposition, strong company culture, and growth potential. He concluded with a cautiously optimistic investment outlook, noting the life sciences sector’s continued growth and the promising tax and regulatory landscape.

Hannah Davies, Deputy Chief Executive of the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA), delivered the next keynote. She addressed the stark north/south divide in research funding and life expectancy, as well as the disparities seen in COVID-19 mortality rates. Davies explained how Health Equity North tackles these issues with place-based solutions, producing influential reports, running parliamentary groups, and contributing to political debates and inquiries, including the COVID-19 Inquiry.

Dr. Clare Wareing, Founder and CEO of Cumulus Oncology, closed the keynotes with her reflections on 30 years in oncology drug development. She highlighted persistent challenges in the biopharmaceutical sector, such as the high unmet medical need in oncology and the limited improvements in late-stage clinical trial success rates. Wareing discussed the critical issues of an aging population, the rising importance of managing chronic illnesses, and the sector’s declining productivity. She pointed to new platform technologies, deeper biological insights, and emerging methodologies as key opportunities to enhance patient outcomes. Additionally, she advocated for a fundamental shift in the R&D model through advanced analytics and AI-driven drug discovery.

The State of the Possible panel session was another highlight, emphasising the urgent need for more space and investment to support the scaling up of regional companies. The energy throughout the conference was palpable, with numerous examples of the sector’s forward momentum. The event successfully attracted speakers and delegates from across the UK, fostering a vibrant exchange of experiences, research, and technologies.

Austin Clark, CCO, aptly remarked, “BioFocus was exceptionally well attended, with a fantastic turnout that underscored its importance in the life sciences sector. The event was brimming with insightful discussions and presentations, providing invaluable opportunities to explore the latest innovations and connect with leading professionals from across the UK.”

Indeed, the buzz at BioFocus was infectious, leaving us all motivated to drive forward both our business endeavours and research efforts.

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