As we discovered in the previous article the Manx Biomed Sector is small but thriving. Companies such as BodyStat, who research and manufacture a range of products to analyse body composition through Bioelectrical-Impedance Analysis (BIA) have been on the Island for over 25 years.
Other companies include SEQ, experts in pharmaceutical advice, regulatory strategy and regulatory affairs; Nasalese, developer and manufacturer of the world’s first powdered nasal spray; Prometic Biosciences whose three areas of business focus are therapeutic plasma proteins, small-molecule drug discovery and bioseparations, have a manufacturing plant in the Isle of Man; Highland Scientific’s core business revolves around thin film deposition technology and techniques and its sister company Manx Graphene is developing a novel process for the production of wide area graphene on the Isle of Man; and Panacea is a pharmacovigilance company with a client base which includes global pharma companies. There is no doubt that with Government’s continued commitment to the sector and with the introduction of effective vetting procedures, recognised protocols for product testing and development of the required finance and business support systems, bio medicine will play a vital component of the Island’s economic development as well as enhancing the quality of health care.
Zahid Latif, Head of Healthcare, Innovate UK provides a good summary of biomedical developments in the UK in a recent article in News-Medical.net. He explains that biomedical research is one of the UK's strengths with over 1,500 companies in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology employing over 70,000 people - if medical devices and medical technology are included in the figures there are more than 80,000 people employed in 3,200 companies; these companies generate over £50bn pa in turnover. This growth is underpinned by the fact that four of the world’s top ten universities are located in the UK and the Medical Research Council and National Institute for Health Research provide significant funding for research in the sector.
He also outlined a change that the pharmaceutical industry has recently undergone with a trend for pharmaceutical companies to downsize some of their research activities, recognizing that innovations can be developed effectively by small operators rather than in-house. This disaggregation of the sector is good news for small companies that supply the ideas or the technology for the large pharmaceutical companies. Whilst not developing the actual pharmaceutical products they address particular aspects of the development and marketing of products.
Zahid explained that traditionally, the biotechnology industry was seen as different from the pharmaceutical industry which focused on small molecule drugs. Recently however, there is convergence, the large pharmaceutical companies have biological drugs as well as non-biological, small molecule, chemical drugs; the industry now describes itself as the bio-pharmaceutical industry. Smaller companies are now doing a lot of the initial high risk research in specific fields with the large pharmaceutical companies licensing or acquiring those that show promise.
Although the business activities of the Islands existing biomed cluster are diverse through the ManxBioMed Cluster they enjoy the opportunity to come together in a forum where new ideas, products and healthcare services are discussed, where they can network with other members as well as service providers and visiting biomed companies. There have been many examples of companies identifying mutually beneficial opportunities either to support each other through sharing knowledge, experience or connections or in identifying ways in which they can work together on joint projects.
The Island is an attractive proposition for companies considering where to locate. Regardless of zero corporation tax and advantageous personal tax regime the Island offers a high quality of life in a safe and friendly environment. There is plenty of space to both develop specialist facilities on the one hand and in which to enjoy adventurous outdoor leisure activities on the other. New medicines and techniques coming to the market now are very different to those of the past. Worldwide, it is accepted that the current models of delivering healthcare are unsustainable, new, affordable ways of healthcare provisions are being sought. There will be many changes with regard to how biomedical research is undertaken, as well as what those products are and how they are taken to market.
If the Isle of Man can understand the changing market and identify new opportunities and is able rapidly to adapt its infrastructure, thinking and business environment it has a tremendous opportunity to benefit its community while developing a sector that could, if properly nurtured, be bigger than e-business as a contributor to national wealth.
Find out more about the ManxBioMed Association