Government to back new biotech park

Posted on 13 Oct 2009 by The Manufacturer

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson will today announce plans for a unique new £37m Bioscience Campus in Hertfordshire which could create up to 1,500 highly skilled jobs.

The estate, already host to a research centre owned by GlaxoSmithKline who are a partner in the initiative, will initially be home to 25 early-stage biotech companies. However, the plan is for this to increase five-fold over the next 10 years. The Campus will offer each company access to specialist skills, equipment and expertise, to help stimulate innovation in drug development. By sharing knowledge each company will also increase its chance of success, while retaining its independence so entrepreneurship can flourish.

Other partners include The Wellcome Trust, Technology Strategy Board and East of England Development Agency in the initiative, with funding coming from all parties. The Campus is being part-funded with £11.7m from the UK Strategic Investment Fund. This is a £750m pot set aside for the areas that the UK already leads in, as laid out in the New Industry, New Jobs strategy.

Mandelson is due to announce the plans at Technology Strategy Board’s Innovate09 Conference. Speaking before the event, he said:

“Innovation drives commercial invention; it pushes up productivity; it is at the heart of growth. And this joint investment by the public, private and charitable sectors recognises that innovation will be decisive in Britain’s recovery.

“The Stevenage Campus represents a huge investment in the future of Britain’s bioscience industry and is a strong new platform for the work of our Office for Life Sciences. It will leverage our existing strengths as a world leader in the sector, helping it to grow and reinforcing our international competitiveness. And ultimately it will help us build towards a stronger UK economy coming out of the global downturn.”

The CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, Andrew Witty, said the park “will provide a supportive environment where scientists in small biotech companies can tap into GSK’s management and expertise in drug discovery while remaining independent.” He described GSK as “delighted” to be a partner in the initiative.

Click here for an update on what’s happening with the fund.
The UK Strategic Investment Fund – Interim Report is published today. It sets out the principles behind the fund and the investment commitments that have been made so far.