Construction starts on world-first £55 million centre for cell and gene therapy in Stevenage

Herts LEP chairman John Gourd and Dr Nicole Mather from the Department for Business, Innovation and

Herts LEP chairman John Gourd and Dr Nicole Mather from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Department of Health with John Brown, Keith Thompson and Stephen Ward from the Cell Therapy Catapult team at the turf cutting ceremony. - Credit: Archant

Construction of a £55 million world-first cell and gene therapy centre has begun and is expected to create more than 150 jobs when it opens in 2017.

Construction of a £55 million world-first cell and gene therapy centre has begun and is expected to create more than 150 jobs when it opens in 2017.

The Cell Therapy Catapult – an organisation dedicated to the growth of the UK cell and gene therapy industry – is building its manufacturing centre on the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst campus in Gunnels Wood Road.

A turf-cutting ceremony to mark the start of construction of the 7,200 sq metre centre – the first of its kind – took place on Monday and was attended by Dr Nicole Mather from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Department of Health.

The facility will enable a large number of firms to manufacture different cell therapies for late phase clinical trials and the commercial supply of cell and gene therapies which could be used in health services around the world.

It is being built in Stevenage so it is at the centre of a growing cluster at the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, and because its close proximity to Heathrow airport will enable the time critical transport of patients’ cells.

Cell Therapy Catapult chief executive officer Keith Thompson said: “The manufacturing centre will be a game changer for the UK cell therapy industry, as well as the future international availability of therapies for patients.”

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Welcoming the initial announcement of the centre at Stevenage, Martino Picardo, chief executive officer of the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, said: “The Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst is now well on the way to becoming a world class campus for open innovation and the development of new therapies.”

George Freeman, UK Government Minister for Life Sciences, said: “It will be the world’s first facility of its kind and I am very proud it will be built in the UK.

“The centre will contribute to the development of a large scale industry in the UK and the development of a cell and gene therapy cluster that will deliver both health and wealth to the UK.”