Stevenage pivotal to county’s future economic success

Stevenage could play a pivotal role in Hertfordshire’s future prosperity thanks to its globally significant cluster of industries. 

Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has published its draft Local Industrial Strategy for consultation and will be sharing its findings at its sold out Annual Conference on Monday at GSK, Stevenage. The document sets out future scenarios for the county, including building a ‘science corridor’ along the A1(M) – from Hatfield through Stevenage towards the north Hertfordshire towns.

This would help unlock science-based clusters in the Golden Triangle of Oxford-Cambridge-London. The report states that Hertfordshire, and Stevenage in particular, has excelled over the past decade in growing a cell and gene cluster which is of global significance. It also has very strong advanced engineering credentials and world-class expertise in space science due to Airbus in Stevenage.  

At the conference on 7th October, Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi MP will talk about how the Government’s Industrial Strategy is creating the right conditions for local economic growth.  Dean Cook, Associate Programme Director, UKRI Strength in Places Fund, will talk about innovation and the importance of place. Dean is Head of Regional Engagement for Innovate UK, the national innovation agency. The conference will be opened by Robert Voss CBE, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Hertfordshire.

Stevenage is at the heart of a medical revolution with companies like GSK in the town. The LEP’s investment has reinforced Hertfordshire’s position as a world-class hub for the development of cell and gene therapies thanks to the unique co-location of the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst and Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult’s Manufacturing Centre. 

Other key speakers include Keith Thompson, CEO, Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult; and Sally Ann Forsyth, CEO, Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, who will talk about how they are building a world-class cluster in advanced therapies in Stevenageand its positive impact on UK plc.

Bim Afolami, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, and Cllr David Williams, Leader, Hertfordshire County Council and Hertfordshire LEP Board Member, will also be speaking about the wider implications of growth on Hertfordshire’s people and places. 

The conference has attracted significant interest with Dr Barbara Gibson, Liberal Democrat MEP for the East of England attending, alongside senior government officials from the Department for International Trade, including the Office for Life Sciences, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. 

The event, which has become a key fixture in the county’s business calendar, is sold out. Around 200 representatives from Hertfordshire’s major corporates and research and education institutes will be attending together with local authorities, SMEs, not-for-profit and membership organisations.

Mark Bretton, Chair, Hertfordshire LEP, said: “This conference gives us the opportunity to share the progress we have made and our collective vision for Hertfordshire’s long-term future. The strategy sets out future scenarios based on extensive analysis and engagement carried out by the LEP over nearly two years and represents one of the biggest opportunities yet to alter the county’s future path and make the economy as resilient as possible.”

Sally Ann Forsyth, CEO, Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, said: “I am delighted to have been invited to speak at this pivotal event for the region and discuss the continued support of the Hertfordshire LEP for the life science sector. This has strengthened Stevenage’s position as a globally recognised hub for cell and gene therapy, attracting international companies, investment and jobs to the area.”

Keith Thompson, CEO, Cell & Gene Therapy Catapult, said: “We are delighted to support the Hertfordshire LEP Annual Conference. Stevenage has become the go to location for cell and gene therapy development and manufacturing, and the Hertfordshire LEP has been a key supporter of the cell and gene therapy cluster. This includes providing match funding for the expansion of our advanced analytics capability at the CGT Catapult manufacturing centre.”

Hertfordshire LEP will set out how it will play to its key sector strengths to deliver a Local Industrial Strategy for Hertfordshire and create the foundations for inclusive growth. The Local Industrial Strategy will also be an integral part of the wider Hertfordshire growth plan and positions the LEP as key drivers of it. 

The conference falls within the consultation period on the Local Industrial Strategy before the LEP enters a co-design process with Government. The final strategy is expected to be published early 2020. Hertfordshire LEP is seeking responses to its Local Industrial Strategy draft. View the consultation document and responses questionnaire. The conference will be followed by an AGM. 


Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership 

Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership is one of 38 LEPs tasked by Government to drive local economic growth, channel investment and boost job creation. The LEP manages over £309m of UK and EU public funds to target investment where it is needed most. Find out how your LEP is transforming the local economy and creating the foundations for growth: 

Local Industrial Strategies: Local Enterprise Partnerships have been tasked by the UK Government to develop Local Industrial Strategies to help create more prosperous communities and tackle the vast regional and local disparities that exist across the UK. Keep up to date with our Local Industrial Strategy progess. 


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