The life science sector is the third largest contributor to economic growth in the UK, with more than 4.000 companies, 165.000 jobs and £50bn revenue.
Oxford, Cambridge and London, the so called “Golden Triangle” of life science companies, are the key locations of UK biotech companies in the UK and are accounting for a stunning 71% of all UK biotech investments made by the venture capital community.
Oxford and Cambridge are currently considered to be the hub for hundreds of UK based biotechnology companies and London is now trying to reach their success. In 2014, Boris Johnson launched MedCity, an entrepreneurial biotech collaboration between King’s Health Partners, Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre and UCLPartners, to give Britain the biggest life sciences cluster in the world.
UK Biotech investments
According to a report made by the UK Bioindustry Association, over the past ten years, £1.7bn were pushed into the sector through venture capital and £923.7m were raised through flotations. In 2014, biotech IPOs brought the UK £408m, an 800% increase from the year before. The venture capital funding rose 71%, the highest level seen in the past ten years. Much of this has been driven by investors seeking to acquire growth assets against a backdrop of low interest rates, increased appetite for risk and favourable tax breaks targeted at the sector.
Nearly half of the above mentioned amount (£200m) was raised by the flotation of Oxford-based Circassia, a developer of allergy treatments. With the potential market for Circassia’s allergy drugs including cat allergy and hay fever treatments it is easy to see why investors view them as such an attractive proposition.
Another Oxford based biotech company, Adaptimmune Therapeutics, which aims to utilise the body’s own machinery - the T cell - to target and destroy cancerous cells, has recently pulled off a $191.3 million IPO, riding onto Wall Street amid investor exuberance for immune-oncology.
Finance professionals within Biotech
It’s very clear that UK investors are starting to see there are quite a few quality life science companies out there which offer good opportunities for investment.
Investigo’s Oxfordshire practice has seen this investment within biotech lead to an increase and up skill in finance functions and a creation of new finance positions (often at a senior level) within these companies. The newly created roles are often in response to the companies’ increasingly complex external reporting requirements, newly-formed group structures, complex acquisition accounting and a greater need to understand financial performance.
The future for the sector is indeed looking very bright and we at Investigo are looking forward to supporting other Oxford-based biotech companies and thereby creating new and interesting opportunities for finance professionals in Oxfordshire.
Gareth Jenkins is a Senior Consultant at Investigo and a specialist in the recruitment of Interim and Permanent Finance positions in Oxfordshire. If you would like to get in touch, please contact Gareth on firstname.lastname@example.org.