ALEX BRUMMER: Battle to stop great science, developed in UK universities, heading across the pond

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Jeremy Hunt has a whole task ahead of him in next week’s budget.

The chancellor plans to lighten the mood with high-flown rhetoric about the UK’s world-leading achievements in life sciences, deep tech, artificial intelligence, fintech and more.

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He will do so against a jaded backdrop as Arm, business lender OakNorth and troubled data group Wandisco decided the grass is greener on the other side of the Atlantic.

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Challenge: Chancellor Jeremy Hunt plans to lighten the mood with high-flown rhetoric about the UK’s world-leading achievements in life sciences, deep tech, artificial intelligence and more.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. As we have learned in a pandemic (no exaggeration). The UK is truly a world leader when it comes to biotechnology, vaccine development and new medicines.

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Many UK discoveries are turned into start-ups and then race towards the approval of the first stage in the regulatory process. This points to the prospect of success.

Then the fun begins: small biotech companies are looking for direct funding, and large pharmaceutical companies are looking for licensing agreements for new drugs or compounds.

In fact, it is a random process with only one in ten chance of success.

However, the competition is high, and as one biotech lawyer told me this week, at this point you can almost hear the whistle of great science developed in British universities heading to Stanford and the US West Coast.

American venture capital is much more willing to take risks than British investors. That’s a shame because, as vaccine hero Kate Bingham pointed out, the NHS could be a fantastic testing ground for genetic therapies, digitization, artificial intelligence and more.

Many of our best-known growth companies have been spun off from universities, including Arm, Aveva, Darktrace and Oxford Nanopore.

It’s very good that the Treasury Department recognizes this, and the chancellor has set up a task force to identify “best practices” for turning university research into commercial success.

It’s like a typical Whitehall, where civil servants, as Bingham noted, are focused on the process, not the results.

Of course, there are huge opportunities for turning university research into commercial success.

This is already happening with Russell Group universities such as Southampton. He created a huge scientific center where dozens of innovations turned into firms.

M&G aims to be a pioneer in this field through Northern Gritstone. Its £5bn Catalyst Fund is open to outside investors for the first time and lacks targeted investment targets.

Conservative supporters such as Lord Lee of Cavendish Corporate Finance argue that if the UK is truly to become a beacon for start-up funding, then mechanisms such as the Tax Relief Enterprise Investment Scheme need to be modernized and expanded.

The government is still living in fear of financial shock after the Truss fiasco last fall.

But the UK won’t be able to regain its strength without generous tax breaks and a change in the attitude of defensive domestic investors towards more venture capital. The Americans should not leave it.

Swiss Watches

US regulators are never slow to penalize overseas banks. Both HSBC and Standard Chartered have been punished in the past for money laundering and sanctions violations.

The problems at Credit Suisse are different. The Securities and Exchange Commission intervened in an unusual way to prevent the publication of the report and accounts of the troubled bank.

He does not trust the cash flow data for 2019 and 2020.

The net effect of the errors may be small, but requests from Wall Street’s top regulator in the US don’t look good.

Earlier this week, the bank’s largest investor, Harris Associates, sold its stake, and shares fell another 5% in recent trading.

The aim of the Swiss bank is to stop the capital outflow and focus on its money management skills. Recent developments can hardly be attributed to building confidence.

survival skills

Nothing is more important to Jamie Dimon and JP Morgan than the reputation of Wall Street creditors.

Turning the tables against former Barclays chief executive Jes Staley over his ties to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, he clearly decided that some of the allegations and testimonies released from the court action were too toxic to be left in limbo.

Not without reason, Dimon has survived at the top of JP Morgan since 2005, the period of the great financial crisis.

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