Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership is to invest £1.2m into Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC) to help grow a world-class cell and gene therapy cluster.

The £1.2m Local Growth Fund investment will provide much-needed temporary accommodation for growing cell and gene therapy companies, strengthening the UK’s sectorial advantage and Hertfordshire’s position within the Oxford-London-Cambridge golden research triangle.

SBC is a world-leading science park of global significance and home to the largest cluster of cell and gene therapy companies in Europe. Since its opening in 2012, it has attracted over 40 high-profile occupier businesses and world-class research organisations to Stevenage.

This includes the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult Manufacturing Centre which already supports five companies developing their manufacturing at scale and is currently undergoing expansion to help support up to 12 cell and gene therapy companies.

With both SBC and the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult’s first large scale manufacturing centre on the campus, companies can benefit from close proximity to manufacturing, development and research. This unique co-location has been a key driver of growth in this exciting and emerging treatment area.

Occupiers of the SBC campus have raised almost £1bn of investment, of which around 60% has been invested into cell and gene therapy companies. Now several of these companies are wanting to expand their premises at SBC.

To help meet this demand, Hertfordshire LEP has granted £1.2m capital contribution to the development of the new “Spark Building”. This will provide interim lab and office accommodation whilst more permanent accommodation is developed nearby. The Spark Building, due for completion by the end of 2019, will be co-located with the SBC Incubator, Accelerator and the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult Manufacturing Centre.

Dr Sally Ann Forsyth, Chief Executive Officer at Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, commented: “We are delighted to receive the investment and continued support from Hertfordshire LEP. This ensures that we support the growth of our occupiers and continue to build on our position as Europe’s hub for cell and gene therapy.

Paul Witcombe, Head of Enterprise and Innovation, Hertfordshire LEP, commented: “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. To date, we have already approved up to £12m from the Local Growth Fund to develop essential infrastructure to support scientific research and we anticipate further opportunities to support the cluster.”

For more information please visit www.stevenagecatalyst.com