Stevenage science park the heart of industry minister says

PUBLISHED: 16:32 14 July 2011 | UPDATED: 16:42 14 July 2011

David Willetts (centre) lays a datestone with representatives from SBC, GSK and The Welcome Trust.

David Willetts (centre) lays a datestone with representatives from SBC, GSK and The Welcome Trust.

Copyright 2004

A multi-million pound science park development in Stevenage reached a milestone today (Thursday) when building work was ‘topped off’ by the Minister for Science.

The £38m Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst project, in the grounds of the giant GlaxoSmithKline site in the town, underwent a ceremonial stone laying by David Willetts, secretary of state for universities and science, to mark the final stage of construction work on the new buildings.

The development, backed by GSK, science charities and the government, aims to attract a range of small to medium pharmaceutical businesses when it opens at the beginning of 2012.

The park will operate on a model of open innovation – the sharing of information and developments across individual businesses to get medicines developed and marketed quickly.

Mr Willetts said: “It’s great that we have got such a strong science business here. It makes one very optimistic about the future of life sciences.

“There are two changes that we have got to recognise – a shift to open innovation and a shift from doing everything in house. What we have here is GSK backing open innovation models. It’s great that we are plugging that gap.

“This is the government backing Stevenage and the fantastic base it has got here. With Cambridge, Oxford, London and the work at the Crick Institute going on, Stevenage is at the heart of the industry.”

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland, a member of the government’s science and technology select committee, said the development was “fantastic”.

“When it’s finished development it will be home to 1500 world class scientists and medical innovation to save lives,” he said.

He added that it will not only attract skills to the area, but also provide work for local businesses.

“There’s already a range of local companies building links with the site - everything from removals, to banking facilities and accountants – a whole range of things. And there will be great links with the schools and apprenticeships.”

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