Plans for a unique £37m Bioscience Campus in Stevenage, Hertfordshire - funded in partnership by the Government, GlaxoSmithKline, The Wellcome Trust, Technology Strategy Board and East of England Development Agency - will be announced today by Business, Innovation and Skills Secretary, Lord Mandelson.

The project aims to create a world-leading hub for early-stage biotech companies, operating under a model of open-innovation and collaboration.

The Campus will offer each company access to specialist skills, equipment and expertise, to help stimulate innovation in drug development. By sharing knowledge each company will also increase its chance of success, while retaining its independence so entrepreneurship can flourish.     

Speaking ahead of the announcement at the Technology Strategy Board’s Innovate09 Conference, Lord Mandelson said:   “Innovation drives commercial invention; it pushes up productivity; it is at the heart of growth. And this joint investment by the public, private and charitable sectors recognises that innovation will be decisive in Britain’s recovery.   

“The Stevenage Campus represents a huge investment in the future of Britain’s bioscience industry and is a strong new platform for the work of our Office for Life Sciences. It will leverage our existing strengths as a world leader in the sector, helping it to grow and reinforcing our international competitiveness. And ultimately it will help us build towards a stronger UK economy coming out of the global downturn.“   

It’s estimated that development of the campus could create up to 1,500 new jobs, most of which will be high-skilled. It will initially be home to around 25 companies, co-located with GlaxoSmithKline on its existing research site, with plans to increase capacity at the park fivefold over the next 10 years.  

Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline said: 

“GSK is delighted to play a leading role in the creation of this science park on our Stevenage site. Innovation is at the heart of the life-sciences industry and this park will provide a supportive environment where scientists in small biotech companies can tap into GSK’s management and expertise in drug discovery while remaining independent.   

“This collaboration in turn will stimulate innovation that will help ensure the UK remains a world-leader in the research and development of important medicines.”   

Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: "We welcome this new public private partnership, which will catalyse the development of new healthcare products. This initiative will help us achieve an important part of our charitable mission, which is to translate research into health benefit. 

"The new Campus will provide state of the art facilities and mentorship for research teams and start-up companies embedded at the heart of GSK’s R&D facilities in Stevenage and near to academic centres of excellence in the South East, including the developing UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation at St Pancras." Iain Gray from the Technology Strategy Board said:  “The future of healthcare depends on innovation, and it increasingly depends on the fast reduction of new knowledge and ideas to practical demonstration.

The bioscience campus will enable a rapidly developing field, where the UK has world leading science, to grow faster than it might otherwise do and move quickly to commercial impact.” Richard Ellis, Chair from East of England Development Agency said

“EEDA has been working with GSK for the last 18 months to develop and secure funding for the UK’s first open innovation campus for drug discovery and development.

 

“Today’s announcement strengthens the region’s position as a world leader in life sciences, it will create thousands of new jobs and enable us to compete on the global stage. It’s a great example of how regional interventions can stimulate projects of national significance with a global outreach.”

 

The Campus is being part-funded with £11.7m from the UK Strategic Investment Fund. The £750m fund was established in Budget ’09 as part of the Government’s New Industry, New Jobs strategy to position the economy for the global upturn by supporting projects in fields where the UK has comparative strengths.

 

The UK Strategic Investment Fund – Interim Report is published today.  It sets out the principles behind the fund and the interim commitments that have been made so far.