Good news for Hertfordshire life sciences cluster

Hertfordshire’s thriving life sciences sector has been singled out for praise in a report on the British life sciences landscape.

A recent workshop held by the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry explored the changes taking place in drug discovery and how the UK can build on its strengths and overcome challenges to maintain leadership in R&D, in light of a broader UK life sciences industrial strategy.

Stevenage BioScience Catalyst was highlighted as an exemplar for fantastic practice that contributes to the UK punching above its weight in drug discovery. Its activity is viewed as being key to meeting future challenges and ensuring the UK remains a leader in the field.

The workshop’s report shone a light specifically on Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst’s successful open innovation set-up and how it is accelerating advances in biomedical discovery through collaboration across academia, pharmaceutical, biotech and diagnostic companies amongst others.

One of the successes of the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst has been its ability to attract major investment, including from Innovate UK, for a new £55m Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult manufacturing centre on the site.

The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult was extolled in the report for its capabilities, infrastructure and technologies which address the unique challenges of cell and gene therapies across the lifecycle from early discovery through to market access. Its expansion in Stevenage marks a significant, positive development for Hertfordshire.

Supporting key sectors and unlocking sites for development are two of Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s strategic priorities. It follows that the LEP is incredibly supportive of Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst and the new £55m Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult manufacturing centre which will accelerate innovation and job creation in the county.

The timely praise for the county’s life sciences sector comes as Hertfordshire LEP is working alongside other LEPs and businesses to map Hertfordshire’s strengths through Science and Innovation Audits. The life sciences audit is being led by Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst.

Science & Innovation Audits are, in essence, a ‘deep dive’ survey of cutting-edge innovation taking place in industry and the public sector, and are being conducted to better inform central Government of regional strengths for potential future funding streams, and to assist with foreign direct investment.

Martino Picardo, CEO of Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, said: “UK science has a long history of productive collaboration, and as proven in the recent Science & Innovation audit, the east region of England in particular, is home to some of the best and most exciting research centres and companies in the world. Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst is proud to be playing its part in turning great ideas into great partnerships, and translating quality science into strong businesses, which ultimately, will lead to the discovery of ground-breaking therapies for patient benefit.”

Paul Witcombe, Enterprise and Innovation Manager at Hertfordshire LEP, said: “It is brilliant to see Hertfordshire receive the recognition it deserves for leading the way in nurturing the life sciences sector. We are very fortunate to have organisations such as Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst building collaborative relationships with the likes of GlaxoSmithKline. This is putting the county firmly on the map for innovation, research and discovery. We look forward to continuing our work with industry leaders and neighbouring LEPs in the Science and Innovation Audit to highlight our strengths, help direct future funding and investment, and grow further our strong life sciences sector.”

Notes to editors

Stevenage BioScience Catalyst (SBC) opened as the UK’s first open innovation biomedical campus in 2012, and combines a unique blend of infrastructure and virtual networks to drive collaboration. Backed by a novel partnership between Government, GlaxoSmithKline and Wellcome, the remit was, and remains, to catalyse innovation for patient benefit in a phased development. SBC has a strong commitment to companies that focus on high quality science and share its vision, and its development of activity clusters and direct access to the expertise of a major pharmaceutical company are among its unique characteristics. There is start-up and grow-on space for companies, plus a commercially focused management team viewed as a leader in UK incubation. With Phase 1 at capacity, the next phase is in development for the continuation of the collaborative vision. Co-located with GlaxoSmithKline in Stevenage, Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst is located close to both London and Cambridge. For more information, please go to Follow us on twitter@SteBioCat

The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult helps cell and gene therapy organisations translate earlystage research into commercially viable and investable therapies. It is building a £55m manufacturing centre in Stevenage to overcome manufacturing and supply chain issues for translating research into commercially viable products. It aims to de-risk the process, offering collaborators a low capital outlay at the beginning, acceleration of commercial sale and certainty of a manufacturing future.