UK Biotech Sector Sees Investment Gains in 2018

James Ahern

James “Jimmy” Ahern is the managing partner of Laidlaw & Company UK Ltd. in New York City. In his role at Laidlaw, James (Jim) Ahern advises public and private companies that are making investments in health care industries, specifically biotech and life sciences.

The UK biotech sector experienced significant growth in investment funding in 2018, with 2.2 billion pounds injected into the sector – one billion pounds more than in 2017 – indicating a strong appetite for UK biotech innovation, according to the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA). The majority of the financing occurred in private markets with only five biotech companies going public in 2018.

This low IPO activity saw AIM, London’s junior investment market, lag behind the United States NASDAQ in drug discovery companies. BIA attributed 2018’s subdued biotech industry IPO activity to poor market conditions and several failed late-stage clinical trials.

Also in 2018, the UK biotech industry recorded increased funding from US-based investment firms. This was attributed to growing foreign interest in life science areas in which the UK is particularly strong, including genomics and cell therapy.