GSK could create 5,000 new jobs as part of biotechnology site regeneration
- Credit: Archant
Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has shared plans to turn their Stevenage home into one of Europe’s largest ‘clusters’ for biotechnology.
In the announcement today (July 16), GSK stated that a formal process had begun in seeking a development partner to transform land within the existing 92-acre research and development site on Gunnels Wood Road.
The plan aims to unlock up to £400 million of new private investment by selling off 33 acres of land, creating up to 5,000 new highly-skilled jobs in the next five to 10 years.
A partnership between Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC), the UK Government, Stevenage Borough Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership developed the vision for the new campus, which would build on the existing presence of GSK, the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and the SBC on the site.
GSK expects to select a development partner for the project later this year, with a view for work to begin on master planning for the new campus in 2022.
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Tony Wood, senior vice president of Medicinal Science and Technology and GSK, said: “The past 18 months has shown the UK life sciences sector at its best and the UK has recently unveiled an ambitious 10-year vision for the UK life sciences sector.
"Our goal is for Stevenage to emerge as a top destination for medical and scientific research by the end of the decade. We are excited to find a development partner to realise our vision to foster the next generation of world-class scientists and biotechnology firms in Britain.”
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Cllr Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council, said: “I am deeply proud that Stevenage is home to a world-leading life science cluster and welcome plans for a new life sciences campus. This will cement our standing as a leading STEM location within the UK.
"As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that we create new, quality jobs and opportunities for our town and our country. Our shared commitment is to make Stevenage even better, working with businesses, residents, community groups and partners to help regenerate the town and create many new jobs and opportunities for local people.
"We look forward to continuing our work with the life sciences sector to make Stevenage a leading light in the discovery and development of the medicines of the future.”
The new campus – which would sit next to GSK’s existing site at Stevenage - could ultimately deliver 100,000 square metres of new floorspace for commercial life sciences research and development.
Dr Sally Ann Forsyth, chief executive officer of Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, added: “Stevenage is already a leading location for life science companies to develop and commercialise cutting edge therapeutics. Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst is home to over 40 companies, and today’s proposal presents exciting opportunities to build on this by supporting their growth, attracting new organisations to the ecosystem and facilitating further collaboration with world-class organisations.
"We look forward to working with GSK and other partners to further develop the thriving life sciences campus in Stevenage.”
With world-class scientists driving cutting-edge innovation at GSK's Stevenage site, it is already the UK’s largest cell and gene therapy cluster - the third largest globally.
Mark Bretton, chair of Hertfordshire LEP and LEP Network, said: “Our investment in the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst has consolidated Stevenage’s position as a globally recognised hub for cell and gene therapy, attracting international companies with the potential to create thousands of high-level jobs.
"Hertfordshire LEP played a pivotal role in securing Stevenage’s Life Sciences Opportunity Zone and High Potential Opportunities recognition. This exciting new development will be a key component of our Cell and Gene Cluster Plan, ensuring continued growth and investment for the area.”
Cllr Adam Mitchell, who represents the Broadwater Division on Hertfordshire County Council, added: “I am delighted to see this significant investment in both Broadwater and Stevenage.
"Five thousand high quality, highly skilled jobs will have a great impact on our community, improving opportunities for local people. It is more vital than ever to see investment in the UK pharmaceutical sector, which pioneered the creation of life-saving COVID-19 vaccines allowing us to return to some form of normality.
"Through supporting the creation of quality jobs and investing in our town we will be able to build back better in the wake of the pandemic."
To find out more about the work GSK does in the UK, visit gsk.com/en-gb/contact-us/worldwide/united-kingdom.