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Monday Update

DB Live: St Andrews Covid deal; BioQuarter seeks partner

4.45pm: Market close

The FTSE 100 ended the session 47.98 points (0.76%) lower at 6,244.62

2pm: Research partnership on Covid

Researchers at St Andrews University are partnering with biotechnology firm ILC Therapeutics to take a therapeutic treatment for COVID-19 to clinical trials.

The biotech start-up is working with Dr Catherine Adamson from the university’s School of Biology, specifically looking at the role that its drug Alfacyt can play in preventing COVID-19-induced Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).

By avoiding the onset of ARDS, this could reduce the need for many patients to be on a ventilator and could potentially limit both short and long-term damage to patients’ lungs.

1.30pm: Higgins highlights Westminster dependency

Former banker Benny Higgins set out a template for Scotland’s economic recovery that drew heavily on Holyrood’s dependency on Westminster.

Full story here

12.15pm: Korea reports Covid spike

South Korea has confirmed a second wave of coronavirus as the health minister warns of a ‘grave situation’ in the country.

10am: Markets

With some support from the supermarkets and house builders, the FTSE 100 almost wiped out its early losses.

The FTSE 100 was trading flat at 6,290.

7.40am: BioQuarter launches partner search

Edinburgh BioQuarter

Edinburgh BioQuarter is seeking a procurement partner to deliver the £1bn Health Innovation District for the city.

A virtual bidders day for interested parties to learn more is planned for 1 September.

BioQuarter is a partnership between the University of Edinburgh, NHS Lothian, the City of Edinburgh Council and Scottish Enterprise. 

The 167-acre site lies just three miles south of Edinburgh city centre and currently 8,000 people work and study within its boundary.

7am: Venture firm raises fund

Epidarex Capital, an Edinburgh-based life science venture firm, has closed Epidarex Capital III UK LP at £102.1 million. The fund aims to build new life science companies based on world-class research and innovation from emerging hubs across the UK, including spinouts from highly regarded universities. Typical initial investments will range from £2 million to £5 million. 

The new fund has been cornerstoned by the British Business Bank via a £50 million commitment from its Enterprise Capital Funds programme for early stage venture capital.

Since its inception it has committed over £1.36 billion (including third-party investment) to facilitate finance to 540 smaller UK high growth businesses.

In addition to the British Business Bank, the Universities of Edinburgh, Manchester, Glasgow and Aberdeen, alongside Strathclyde Pension Fund and several global investors have committed capital to the new Fund.

JD Sports secures moratorium on Go

Leisure retailer JD Sports said it has secured a ten-day moratorium around Go Outdoors protecting it from action by creditors, and confirmed it has considered a number of strategic options amid speculation that it will put the business into administration.

Full story here

7am: Menzies

Logistics company Menzies said trading in Q2 to date has been ahead of management expectations, with a recovery in flight activity anticipated to begin from early July.

The board believes the group now has sufficient liquidity capable of supporting its requirements into 2021 following significant proactive cost action taken and the benefit of government schemes around the network.

Additional actions are being progressed to ensure the group retains a “robust and flexible” financial position through this crisis, including constructive discussions on necessary revisions to the group’s banking covenants.

The board is confident in the long-term growth potential of the aviation services market and believes that, as a global leader, John Menzies will emerge strongly from this challenging period

Today’s agenda

FFP3 face masks

* Face coverings become compulsory on public transport. ScotRail said face masks would be available free of charge at 18 of its busiest stations for a limited period but asked passengers to bring their own if possible.

* Former banker Benny Higgins presents the economic advisory group‘s report to the Scottish government and will appear at the daily briefing with the First Minister

* Construction sector continues its reopening plans

* Takeover powers strengthened: Proposed changes to the Enterprise Act will be put before parliament today to allow the government to intervene if businesses such as vaccine research companies become takeover targets.

The government said the economic disruption caused by the pandemic meant that some critical businesses were more at risk of hostile takeovers or being sold to “malicious parties”.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said yesterday: “These powers will send an important signal to those seeking to take advantage of those struggling as a result of the pandemic that the UK government is prepared to act where necessary to protect our national security.”

The government will be able to intervene in three sectors considered to be central to national security: artificial intelligence, cryptographic authentication technology and advanced materials.

These new powers add to changes brought in two years ago to allow the government to intervene in takeovers of companies involved in military products and technologies.

Today’s Daily Business headlines

Scots remain concerned over crowded places

Scotland will remain target for foreign investors

CBI bosses call for speeding up of recovery plan

Go Outdoors on brink of administration

Spain welcomes UK visitors without quarantine

Pubs and restaurants await social distancing change

Neilson clinches surprise return as Hearts manager

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