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Women In BioTech: Unlocking regional investment and the importance of diversity

Blog, Bruntwood SciTech, Cheshire
Women in conference centre at alderley park

“Women can punch the leadership weight and make a real difference in the sector. Here, we’re bringing different generations of women together to showcase that there’s already a fantastic contribution from women in life sciences.”

These were the opening words given by Lisa Anson from RedX at last week’s BioIndustry Association’s Women in BioTech conference hosted at Alderley Park and sponsored by Bird & Bird.

The event brought together a diverse group of women from across the sector for an insightful discussion; from unlocking regional investment to drive innovation to the importance of diversity and specifically, how women can feel more confident in leadership roles and how we can increase female representation in STEM careers.

In this article, we’ll be breaking down some of the key highlights shared from the panel, chaired by our Director of Life Sciences Dr Kath Mackay (Bruntwood SciTech), and featuring Marion Bernard (CIO at Northern Gritstone), Hannah Randles (Innovation Pipeline Manager at LyvaLabs) and Dr Clare Wareing (Founder and CEO at Cumulus Oncology).

Women in BioTech panel discussion highlights 

What do you think is missing from investment in the North and how are regional investors helping to plug that gap? 

There’s a large life sciences ecosystem in the golden triangle but the sector is growing at pace in a number of areas in the North too. As a result, there is an increasing number of credible female investors, investment funds and investable businesses active in the North, represented by the panel at last week’s event.

Clare Wareing from Cumulus Oncology and Marion Bernard from Northern Gritstone both shared how their respective businesses are helping to level the playing field and plug the gap in investment support for early stage businesses in the North.

At Cumulus Oncology, the team assists entrepreneurs in understanding what it is that investors are looking for and what data business owners need to display in order to get them interested. Through working in a collaborative way, they combine the scientific expertise from individuals in the sector and merge it with the data they need to showcase to get funding.

Northern Gritstone - an investment company dedicated to financing companies in some of the UK’s fastest growing sectors such as advanced materials, energy, health technology and cognitive computation - was developed due to the gap in funding in the North, and is helping to achieve the deployment of essential capital to businesses based outside of the golden triangle.

How do we ensure that companies in the North have access to expert investors and advisors, in order to achieve efficient deployment of capital?

Hannah Randles joined the panel as a representative from LyvaLabs; a Liverpool City Region organisation established to support innovators turn their ideas into reality, and stated that the difficulty in linking business owners in the North with expert investors and advisors comes with connecting them to the right people for investment. The key to unlocking this part of the investment journey is to translate the needs of the system and the big industry players and provide that information to the innovators. By doing this, companies such as LyvaLabs are helping to ensure these entrepreneurs are creating what’s needed in the industry, thereby aiding in the drive to deploy more capital to northern businesses.

How can we increase the representation of women at board level?

According to a recent global report by Deloitte, only three in 10 board seats are held by women in the UK. However, this disparity is even more apparent in the life sciences sector.

Hiring managers have a prominent role to play in ensuring that there is a diverse mix of people being interviewed for leadership roles across the business. When the diversity is visible at board level it feels more achievable and doesn’t seem as out of reach. Case studies, mentors, role models and peer-to-peer networking is also an effective way to encourage women to put themselves forward for these roles and help to level out the playing field.

The takeaway

Reflecting on the Women in BioTech event, Dr Kath Mackay, Director of Life Sciences at Bruntwood SciTech, shared how good it was to welcome early career researchers to the event, as well as women who are actively looking for careers in investment and finance and those from the wider life science sector.

Here at Bruntwood SciTech, we’ve developed a purpose-built ecosystem that provides our network with access to finance, talent and new markets, via our partnerships with hospitals, universities and our challenge-led programmes, which are ideal for start-ups and scale-ups looking to accelerate innovation at pace. For early stage businesses in particular, we understand that those founders and entrepreneurs need support in order to be investible and to de-risk investment, and we help them take their business idea to the next level. Find your nearest Bruntwood SciTech location today.

The team at BIA also launched a Women in BioTech interview series as part of this week’s International Women’s Day earlier this month and British Science Week 2022. The series celebrates the successes and contribution of women in the life sciences and BioTech industry in the UK and features the panellists from the latest Women in BioTech event and our Director of Life Sciences at Bruntwood SciTech Dr Kath Mackay.

Women in BioTech will be returning on Thursday 9th June 2022 in Cambridge.
Sign up here and join the BIA team to hear from more inspirational women and allies.


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