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BIA calls for additional UK government support for life sciences

Addresses R&D tax credits for SMEs, reimbursement and innovation funding expansion

BIAWith Brexit looming, the BioIndustry Association has delivered a wish-list to the UK government aimed at keeping the life sciences sector "globally competitive".

Top of the BIA list is the maintenance and expansion of the R&D tax credit, which allow companies to claw back money spent on R&D projects from the taxman. The scheme should be extended to cover additional expenses such as R&D equipment used to improve manufacturing productivity and datasets for clinical research, it says in the submission.

R&D tax credits have been available to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) since 2000, and since then the HMRC has paid out some £14bn to companies.

The BIA also wants the government to ensure that drugs supplied for use under the Early Access to Medicines Scheme (EAMS) are fully reimbursed; something it says was promised but has not yet been fulfilled. Reimbursement is important so there is no disincentive to put forward new medicines for the scheme, particularly for SMEs with limited resources.

The trade organization also proposes an investment scheme - dubbed the Citizens' Innovation Fund (CIF) - that would allow private individuals to invest up to £15,240 per year with a tax deduction of 40% into pooled funds that would back SMEs with innovative projects.

Alongside that, it would also like to see an Investor Visa Fund, which could raise £100m per year to support innovative UK businesses by specifying that Tier 1 (Investor) Visa holders invest 10% of the £2m required to obtain the visa in knowledge-intensive UK SMEs.

Finally, the BIA is calling for an expansion of the Enterprise Innovation Scheme (EIS) to provide a 50% relief rate and a £2m per annum cap on investment, which would allow larger sums to be raised from high-net worth individuals.

The list has been delivered just ahead of the autumn budget that will be delivered by new Chancellor Philip Hammond, who delivered a pledge to support the pharma sector at the Conservative Party Conference earlier this month.

Hammond committed to investing £220m to support the development of new technology in the life sciences sector, including a £100m extension of the Biomedical Catalyst scheme, and also promised that after Brexit the government will subsidise projects that have received multi-year funding from the EU before the UK leaves the bloc.

Adopting the proposals would "not only send another strong signal to the international life sciences community that it remains committed to this vital sector, but also demonstrate to all global decision makers that the UK is open for business and a primary destination for starting and growing an innovative business," said BIA chief executive Steve Bates.

Article by
Phil Taylor

13th October 2016

From: Research, Sales

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