Tuesday, 13 October 2009

New Science Park at Stevenage

It is hoped that a new £38m biotech science park in Hertfordshire will create up to 1,500 new science jobs and rival not only near-neighbour Cambridge but also Boston, California and North Carolina in the US as a Life Sciences cluster of global standing.

The campus will be sited at GlaxoSmithKline's Stevenage research base and is to be funded by the Government, the Technology Strategy Board and EEDA, the Wellcome Trust and GSK.

It is estimated that the science park will initially be home to around 25 companies, with plans to increase capacity at the park fivefold over the next ten years.

Key to the enterprise, according to the partners is its focus on 'open innovation,' with companies locating on the park enjoying shared access to specialist skills, equipment and expertise to stimulate new innovation in drug development.

Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline said: "GSK is delighted to play a leading role in the creation of this science park on our Stevenage site. Innovation is at the heart of the life-sciences industry and this 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.

"This collaboration in turn will stimulate innovation that will help ensure the UK remains a world-leader in the research and development of important medicines."

Total investment in the Campus stands at around £37.6m. The Government's UK Strategic Investment Fund is providing £11.7m, GlaxoSmithKline has granted £10.9m, the Wellcome Trust has committed £6m, the Technology Strategy Board £5 million and EEDA will look to contribute £4 million.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said: “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.”

Richard Ellis, chairman of EEDA, said, “Today’s announcement strengthens the UK as a world leader in life sciences. It will create new jobs and will enable us to compete on a global stage.”