Following the most recent announcements by the Prime Minister in the UK, a Force Majeure situation has been created whereby delivering BioTrinity® as a physical event has now become an impossibility. We will continue to follow all official UK Government and Public Health England advice. The safety, security and interests of our staff, Members and our wider network remains our absolute priority.
BioTrinity is responsible for a very high proportion of annual UK Life Sciences investment (> £5.2 billion over the past 8 years) and major collaboration opportunities, and not going ahead would result in a significantly reduced level of funding throughout 2020 with negative economic consequences for the whole sector. Our delegates value the opportunities to connect, do business and find investment opportunities, and most have already made substantial preparation for the event.
Cancellation or postponement would therefore have a major impact on the UK Life Sciences community and with that in mind, BioTrinity will now go ahead as a fully digital event along similar lines as BioEurope Spring.
This is not a knee-jerk reaction - as a contingency, OBN has been planning for this eventuality for some time, so you can be assured that a high quality event will be delivered encompassing the full range of panel discussions, BioLaunchPad® presentations, virtual exhibition, and on-line one-to-one partnering through our advanced 'HelloPartnering' system.
Further details will be announced over the coming days. We appreciate the strong support and continued understanding of our sponsors and delegates during this difficult period and together as a community we will pull together and come through the COVID-19 situation in the best possible shape.
On a broader basis, continuing interaction, even if on a virtual basis, is paramount to promote a sense of community and maintain economic activity. We have developed and implemented an internal action plan with staff to continue to offer high levels of support to our Members as usual, including regular News bulletins and website services. Our CONNECT magazine will be circulated at the end of March bringing the latest news and developments in the sector, and our SEBC Breakfast events and BioTuesday® content-heavy events will be delivered virtually over the coming months.
We will of course revert to a physical programme as soon as this is deemed safe and practical to do so, but the Health Secretary highlighted this week that peak levels of infection are likely to emerge over the course of the summer rather than just over a couple of weeks. Whilst this is a dynamic situation, we nonetheless expect potential disruption to continue until at least August / September and it does seem likely that most if not all significant physical events both within the UK & abroad are unlikely to proceed during this period.
Our next major conference, BioForward®, is scheduled for 5 October 2020 in Oxford (www.Bioforward.co.uk). In order to facilitate the re-building of contacts and community in the sector, we have decided to offer every R&D company (whether an OBN Member or not) one free ticket to this conference to kick-start business activity and rebuild confidence.
Funding is the lifeblood of the sector, so how will this be affected during the current crisis, particularly for SME’s and start-ups seeking capital? The simple answer is … significantly!
Most Founders are probably unaware as to how much the capital raising environment has changed. When the markets drop 25+% in 3 weeks, many things change and leveraging necessary investment becomes much harder. The risk of small companies simply running out of operating capital cannot be underestimated.
Interaction with potential investors will also become more difficult - most investors generate much of their deal flow from direct contacts made at credible pitching events and this is a route that is being cut off.
With this in mind, OBN has been working on a major funding initiative that is designed to help alleviate these issues and enable companies to access the liquidity they need to continue to function and grow – expect a major announcement towards the end of April.
Despite the considerable challenges the sector is currently facing, OBN has always taken a strong leadership position in the community and will continue to do so, to the benefit of all.
We thank you all for your continuing support during these challenging times.
CEO, OBN UK (Ltd)