How we communicate with our stakeholders

We factor the potential impact our decisions could have on stakeholders into Boardroom discussions.
We are committed to conducting our business in a way that is both economically sound and socially and environmentally responsible and we must ensure that Syncona is governed by taking account of the interests of all stakeholders, including employees, patients and society as a whole.

Our key stakeholders

We seek to understand our stakeholders’ views and ensure that their interests are appropriately considered in board discussions and decision making.

Why do we engage?

The Board recognises the critical importance of understanding, and aligning to, the expectations of our shareholders. Our long-term goal is to deliver both impact for patients and returns for shareholders.

How do we engage?

Regular dialogue with shareholders through a range of different channels helps us to understand their short and long-term views.

Regular communication with shareholders is maintained through individual and group meetings hosted by IR and members of the Leadership Team, particularly following the publication of interim and full-year results.

The Chair seeks to engage with key shareholders and investor groups each year via written correspondence and in-person meetings.

How does this impact on Board activities?

Shareholder relations activities are reported at each Board meeting and considered as part of strategy and other discussions.

Shareholder perspectives and effectiveness of ongoing engagement is regularly considered by the Board.

The Board will conduct an investor perception study in FY2023/4.

Why do we engage?

Our people drive the long-term success of the Company. The nature of the work that we do means that multi-disciplinary expertise and experience is required.

Ensuring that our people are recruited, retained and fully engaged with the Company’s strategy is key to our success and a key risk for us – included within our risk process.

Engagement also reinforces the Board’s commitment to a positive culture and helps people feel engaged with the Company’s strategy and vision.

How do we engage?

Managing our team is a core part of the Leadership Team’s role. During the year the team carried out Syncona’s first Employee Engagement Survey. Outputs of the survey have been analysed, with key priority areas identified for integration into process change.

The Board designated an employee engagement director – Gian Piero Reverberi. He provides a direct contact point between the Board and the wider team, with activities being refreshed in 2023.

How does this impact on Board activities?

Future plans for team development a key part of September’s strategy session.

Discussions on senior hires and leavers form part of the Board’s review of Syncona’s team budget.

The Board was provided with an overview of the outputs from the Employee Engagement Survey and the plans for integrating these into ongoing process changes.

The Remuneration Committee considers cross-team incentivisation through the LTIP incentive scheme.

Why do we engage?

As a company builder who takes a hands-on approach to managing our portfolio companies, we believe ongoing engagement through the development cycle adds value to our companies and supports their management team. This can be through the team’s experience, our broader network or capital.

Our approach to portfolio engagement also provides us with more regular and better visibility on portfolio company practices, progress and culture, which in turn informs the way in which we are able to provide support.

How do we engage?

Support and oversight of portfolio companies is a core part of the Syncona team’s role.

There is generally a close relationship with one or more Syncona team members in regular contact with the portfolio company’s senior team to support their business and clinical strategies and drive long-term value, including taking board seats to promote high-quality governance.

The oversight includes monitoring against our sustainability expectations

How does this impact on Board activities?

Regular reporting from the Syncona team to the Board, with senior members of the investment team regularly presenting to the Board on progress at key portfolio companies as well as potential upcoming investments.

Why do we engage?

We source exceptional science from the scientific research community, creating a company around it that we believe can develop a product and drive returns for shareholders and impact patients.

Translating exceptional science to a commercial product is a complex and challenging progress requiring varying expertise. We offer the scientific community the commercial perspective

How do we engage?

Regular contact by the Syncona team with universities and other institutions across the UK and more broadly.

How does this impact on Board activities?

Core responsibility for this relationship rests with the Syncona team, with the Board being updated on the status of certain key academic relationships via updates received on the Syncona investment pipeline.

Why do we engage?

Our strategy is often to focus on small (orphan) diseases that can be taken to market by a small biotech company. Access to relevant patient groups is critical to enable clinical trials.

How do we engage?

Engagement is typically by portfolio companies, although at the point of founding we are likely to have carried out extensive research which may involve speaking to key patient advocates for relevant diseases.

Under our Responsible Investment Policy we set expectations for portfolio companies around conduct of research and access to medicines.

How does this impact on Board activities?

Board reviewed and updated Sustainability and Responsible Investment Policies in March 2023, which reflect patient access in a number of areas.

Why do we engage?

Our strategy is to maintain significant ownership positions in the companies we create through the lifecycle.

However, an important part of our financing and risk management approach is to bring in co-investors to provide the capital, network and expertise which will help our companies scale ambitiously and deliver on their vision.

Our companies often conduct syndicated financings (syndicated or strategic syndicated) and good relationships with high-quality co-investors are important, particularly in a capital constrained environment. Our companies also seek to enter business development partnerships with pharma companies, and again good relationships with these are important.

How do we engage?

Ongoing contact and relationships between the Syncona team and leading life science investors, generalist investors with an interest in the space and pharma companies.

How does this impact on Board activities?

Largely managed at a Syncona team level, although this forms part of the wider capital strategy which is discussed with the Board.

Why do we engage?

We believe it is important to have a positive impact on the wider community.

How do we engage?

Trustees of the Foundation are asked to present annually to the Board.

The relationship with the charities principally sits with the Foundation and a member of the Syncona team attends trustee meetings as an observer.

How does this impact on Board activities?

The Board is invited to attend charity presentations each quarter.

The Board discusses the relationship with the Foundation each year to ensure it remains relevant and appropriate to Syncona.

Why do we engage?

We must maintain our licence to operate. More broadly, we believe that Syncona’s purpose is positive and want to share that with key stakeholders and the wider community, and ensure we understand any issues or concerns they have.

How do we engage?

Public-facing communications through our website and other communications and sustainability reporting each year.

Given the recent focus from the UK Government on the life science sector, Syncona has increasingly engaged them on the issues which are most critical in the space.

How does this impact on Board activities?

Opportunities for engagement with government are reported to the Board within ongoing reporting from the IR and Corporate Affairs team.

The Board receives a formal update on Syncona’s progress in delivering against its Sustainability Policy twice a year.

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