Stevenage recognised as global leader in groundbreaking medical research
PUBLISHED: 17:28 07 October 2019 | UPDATED: 17:50 07 October 2019
Stevenage has been recognised as a global leader in cutting-edge medical research, after an announcement from Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi MP today.
Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst has been designated as a Life Sciences Opportunity Zone, recognising the world-class research of the biomedical science park on Gunnels Wood Road.
Mr. Zahawi made the formal announcement at the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership's annual conference this morning, proclaiming that "everything is happening here in Hertfordshire", as the county continues to be a global leader in groundbreaking bioscience.
Life Sciences Opportunity Zones are a key part of the government's strategy to support the growth of the life science revolution in the UK.
LSOZ's are advertised to potential investors as exciting hubs of research and opportunity, and they will benefit from a close relationship with the Office for Life Sciences and visits from Business Ministers.
Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst will be one of six LSOZ's that will partner together to promote the sector on the global stage.
Stevenage Bioscience CEO Sally Ann Forsyth said the news "had strengthened Stevenage's position as a globally recognised hub for cell and gene therapy, attracting international companies, investment, and jobs to the area."
She added: "I look forward to working together with our supporting partners to accelerate the growth of this globally recognised cluster for advanced therapeutics."
The SBC campus, which opened in 2012 as a government-led venture between GlaxoSmithKline, Wellcome and Innovate UK, is a world leading science park of over 40 high-profile medical research organisations.
Occupiers of the SBC Campus have raised almost £1bn of investment over the last five years, and in 2017, Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult opened a new £67m facility in the area - the world's first centre for groundbreaking gene and cell therapy.
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Paul Witcombe, Head of Enterprise and Innovation at Herts LEP, said: "Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst has made a huge contribution to the rapid clustering of world-class corporate and academic research excellence on the GSK Campus at Stevenage.
"By awarding it opportunity zone status, SBC can strengthen the UK's sectorial advantage and Hertfordshire's position within the Oxford-London-Cambridge golden research triangle."
Mark Bretton, chairman of Herts LEP, added that there is now a "theme of Hertfordshire influence at a national level," and was delighted that the government is committed to "bringing out the potential of Hertfordshire."
The LEP conference - which has become a key fixture in the county's business calendar - saw 200 representatives from Hertfordshire's major institutes and local authority bodies meet to discuss the vision of realising Hertfordshire's potential as one of the UK's leading economies.
MP for Hitchin & Harpenden Bim Afolami delivered a wide-ranging address on the challenges of connecting local people to economic success.
Mr Afolami outlined the importance of promoting apprenticeships in Hertfordshire as a key to "unlocking life chances for young people."
Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership is one of 38 LEPs tasked by the government to drive local economic growth, investment and job creation.
The government has awarded £9.1bn in three rounds of Growth Deals to local areas in a bid to boost investment.
In its Strategic Economic Plan, Hertfordshire LEP identifies "maintaining global excellence in science and technology" as its first priority, with "Stevenage lying at the beating heart of a medical revolution thanks to the excellence at the GSK campus."
Following the announcement from Nadhim Zahawi MP this morning, Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council, said: "We are delighted to see that the place of Stevenage is at the heart of exciting developments in Gene and Cell Therapy, recognised by designating our Bioscience Catalyst as a Life Sciences Opportunities Zone.
"We look forward to working with the LEP to ensure we make the most of this opportunity for Stevenage and its people."