Kate Bingham

BioLeaders Interview – Kate Bingham (November 2019)

Managing Partner at SV Health Investors; married to Jesse Norman, Minister for Tax (as at the time of writing), 3 grown up children; most demanding hobby- mountain bike bog snorkelling!

Key milestones in your career journey to date?

I’ve somehow managed to be in the right place at the right time; significantly, talked myself into an intern role at Vertex in 1990 which inspired my passion for the sector; and the opportunity to help launch the new life science practice for SV (then Schroder Ventures) in the early 90s since when we have invested in many companies, supporting the discovery of 17 new drugs which have now been launched on the market.

Who has had the greatest influence over your career?

Rich Aldrich and Josh Boger at Vertex and Jon Moulton who catalysed my career in those early Schroder days – and of course my long-suffering husband, my continuous voice of reason.

Your approach to spotting and developing top talent?

Instinctive, proactive, flexible and open; when you meet outstanding talent, hire them whether you have a gap or not!

What attributes make an outstanding leader in today’s world?

Create passion and excitement to take people with you, be a team player, encourage transparency, seek out experts who know more than you do and instil a culture of diversity.

What is our industry’s contribution to improving climate change?

We clearly need to do more; but buildings like The Crick have been designed with a core focus on sustainability, so we need to ensure our new buildings focus on energy, waste and sustainability; focusing on carbon offsetting by using technology rather than flying; and creating innovative ways of waste handling, recycling and packaging.

How do you create a culture of continual learning, innovation and curiosity?

Empowerment and flat structure; at SVHI a job title is almost irrelevant; define the strategy and stretch colleagues to deliver this; encourage and set clear expectations; we exist in a world of continual learning in an industry which is ever changing.

What’s your hidden talent or something that might surprise others about you?

I can play the recorder with my nose!

Thoughts on the current funding model for early stage companies?

There is no shortage of capital to fund good companies, even in the UK and Europe; continual collaboration between academia, investors and industry has contributed to this success; yes, you can raise massive early investment rounds in the US but it will be interesting to see how these companies deliver the expected returns if the stock markets wobble; I’d like to see more absolute funding from Innovate UK.

What will be the biggest technological transformation in the industry over the next 5 years?

In vivo gene therapy will continue to push forward and create new products.

Your views on encouraging volunteering amongst colleagues?

Absolutely excellent team building process; we don’t have a formal approach at SVHI but do encourage colleagues to volunteer with charities they are passionate about.

Your legacy to the sector?

DDF (Dementia Discovery Fund) without a doubt; and continuing to open doors for talented females.

Your simple philosophy on life?

Work hard and be happy!

Words of wisdom?

  • Best advice I was given: Never darn men’s socks – my headmistress at St Pauls.
  • Advice I would give: Always say yes.
  • What I wish I’d known: Don’t fear failure – you learn so much from it.