Roadmap for Growth: Bringing BioForward to Birmingham

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BHP Managing Director Dr John Williams on why Birmingham is the ideal host for an event aimed at growing new life sciences businesses

“A bottleneck to the establishment of new collaborations is the limited ability to support early interactions and knowledge exchange between industry and academic researchers.”
– So read the introduction to the Medical Research Council’s Proximity to Discovery: Industry Engagement Fund 2017.

It was an intriguing prospect for funding, aimed at increasing the permeability between industry and academia – something we at BHP have long been working towards. Since our inception in 2011 we have broken down barriers between the clinical and academic worlds to deliver relevant and innovative collaboration, whether through direct project-based support for existing SMEs; the creation of spin-out companies who bring our research through to application; or training programmes and ongoing strategic relationships with industry to develop their capacity and capability. Increasing engagement with entrepreneurial young businesses is something we aspire to significantly expand locally – through facilities such as The BioHub and in the future, Birmingham Life Sciences Park – and ultimately we have been successful in multiple rounds of MRC Proximity to Discovery funding to expand and enhance our innovative programmes in this area.

Recently, this funding has supported what we hope will be a growing partnership with OBN to bring a major event, BioForward, to Birmingham on Thursday 4 October. It brings one of the most important national networks for ambitious life science start-ups and scale-ups to the second city, capitalising on a perfect location at the heart of BHP’s ecosystem.

BioForward – aimed at helping developing life sciences companies to achieve sustainable business growth – is set to impart the knowledge, skills, connectivity, and support necessary to maximise their chances of success, from development phases to market and beyond. Having supported and guided our own researchers and other industry partners through exactly these processes, we feel we have a unique viewpoint to add to the conversation – as well as providing a portal for businesses to create the right connections with academia and clinicians.

In between the lively programme of seminars, attendees are welcome to stand 9 to find out more about our collaborative infrastructure, research and innovation excellence, and routes to clinical application for new drugs, diagnostics and devices. Followers of @BHPComms on Twitter can also keep up with all the headlines from BioForward 2018.

BioForward will be held in the University of Birmingham’s Aston Webb Building on Thursday 4 October. For further information and to register, visit