The PING Innovation Award recognises individuals and organisations whose innovative ideas, products, services or processes in the pharmaceuticals and life sciences sector are making a positive impact on people's lives.
Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC) has created a vibrant ecosystem at the heart of the third largest cluster of cell and gene companies in the world.
SBC's supportive environment has enabled life science companies to grow through the provision of access to specialist scientific facilities, training, mentoring and sources of finance. Lab space is provided for six months free of charge in the Lab Hotel to help early-stage researchers develop their ideas. The 'DATA accelerator programme', which is also free, provides further entrepreneurial training giving start-ups the skills they need to grow their businesses and attract funding.
In 2020, just eight years after opening, SBC-based companies contributed £87m p.a. to the UK economy and 1,600 jobs with potential to increase to £417m p.a. and 4,500 jobs by 2040. The companies have attracted a total of £2.3bn in finance since 2012 making the private equity investment in Stevenage similar to that of Cambridge, Oxford and London.
The Stevenage cluster has also been recognised by the government through 'Life Science Opportunity Zone' (LSOZ) and 'High Potential Opportunity' location awards. These awards recognise the strength of the cluster and highlight the opportunity to investors including scientific strength, availability of space to grow and links with higher education and business.
Dr Sally Ann Forsyth OBE, CEO of Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst commented:
“It is a pleasure to receive this award on behalf of Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst. On campus we have created a vibrant ecosystem that brings academics, entrepreneurs and major corporates together in a collaborative and supportive environment that helps companies to grow. I would like to thank VWV for the award, all our partners and collaborators who have provided outstanding support and the SBC team for their tireless efforts to create the globally recognised cluster we see today."
Paul Gershlick, Chair of PING and Head of Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences at the law firm VWV, praised the winner:
"We heard a lot at the recent 2021 PING Conference - UK Life Sciences Opportunities in a Changed World - about innovation and collaboration, and Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst ticks both boxes. The campus was certainly innovative when it opened, and its building and design were made with collaboration in mind. What it has achieved in a relatively short space of time makes it a very worthy winner - not only for being instrumental in the location of the pioneering Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, but also for helping other exciting early stage life sciences companies build the platform to grow and develop."
Paul Witcombe, Head of Enterprise and Innovation, Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said:
“I am delighted that Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst is the worthy winner of this year’s PING Innovation Award. Stevenage is home to the UK’s largest Cell and Gene Therapy Cluster, the third largest cluster globally, and the largest outside the US. The Catalyst has played a pivotal role in making Stevenage one of the leading locations for life science equity investment in the country. Congratulations to Dr Sally Ann Forsyth and her team.”
Previous winners of the PING Innovation Award include Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, Dr Harry Destecroix of Ziylo, Paul Strickland Scanner Centre, Sigma Pharmaceuticals Plc, the University of Hertfordshire, Proteus Digital Health and Leslie Morgan of Durbin Plc.