Stevenage will be leading the UK’s fight to find cures for diseases like cancer when a £55 million state-of-the-art cell therapy centre is built.

Business developer Cell Therapy Catapult revealed plans to build the plant at the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst campus today after saying the town ticked all the firm’s criteria.

The investment should create up to 150 jobs at the Gunnels Wood Road site and will generate £1.2 billion of revenue by 2020 – 80 per cent via export.

Business secretary Vince Cable said: “This therapy is at the very cutting edge of medical research, and is using our own cells in the fight against life-threatening diseases including cancer.

“This state-of-the-art facility in Stevenage will ensure Britain can be a real leader in this industry. Supporting British scientists is crucial for our long-term economic growth and that is why we are publishing a Science and Innovation Strategy this week – a blueprint for building our future innovation infrastructure.”

The centre is expected to open in 2017 and will be used for the manufacture of late phase clinical trials and for the commercial supply of advanced therapeutic medicinal products, including cell and gene therapies.

Cell Therapy Catapult’s chief executive Keith Thompson said: “We’re excited to be making this announcement which demonstrates the investment the UK government is making to advance the industry into becoming a world leader in advanced therapy development and commercialisation. This facility will complement the existing UK capability, enabling companies to operate at the scale needed for Phase III clinical trials, and we look forward to working with global scientific and medical communities to assist in their research into products that have the potential to address many unmet medical needs.”

Stevenage Bioscience Catalys chief executive Martino Picardo said: “This is terrific news that we have met all the criteria for locating this facility here, Our open innovation campus is a unique and thriving bioscience community with the benefit of excellent UK and international logistics. Companies coming to the Cell Therapy Catapult’s manufacturing centre will also be able to access our expertise, networks and scientific facilities traditionally associated with multinational pharmaceutical companies.”

Iain Gray, chief executive of Innovate UK which works with Cell Therapy Catapult, said: “This is an exciting development for the Cell Therapy Catapult and an important next step in the establishment of the UK as a global manufacturing centre for the cell therapy industry.

“The choice of Stevenage follows a rigorous selection process to ensure the right location for this important facility. The new centre is a further endorsement by the government of the Catapult model following the Hauser review and recommendations that were published last month.”