Dignitaries, including LEP Board chair John Gourd, were invited to take part in a turf-cutting ceremony to mark the start of the construction of the 7,200 sq metre centre on Monday 16 November.
The Cell Therapy Catapult (CTC), the organisation dedicated to the growth of the UK cell and gene therapy industry, chose to build its manufacturing centre on the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst campus. The centre, which is due to open in 2017, is expected to create up to 150 jobs and provide additional inward investment from global companies.
Hertfordshire LEP played a pivotal role in securing the investment by committing £1.7m to enable highway work at the nearby Junction 7 of the A1(M) and improving access to Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC). This is in addition to the £3m investment to accelerate the second phase of development at SBC.
“The Cell Therapy Catapult cell and gene therapy manufacturing centre will be the world’s first facility of its kind. I am very proud that it will be built in the UK,” said George Freeman, MP, UK Government Minister for Life Sciences, pictured. “The UK is at the leading edge of the cell and gene therapy industry, with a disproportionate share of both world leading scientists and new developments in the field. It will also contribute to considerable additional inward investment to the UK."
The manufacturing centre is the first facility of its kind. It 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.
Welcoming the initial announcement of the centre at Stevenage, Martino Picardo, CEO of Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst and LEP Board Member, said: “Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst is now well on the way to becoming a world class campus for open innovation and the development of new therapies. The campus will place Hertfordshire at the heart of the golden triangle for life sciences in the UK.”
Hertfordshire LEP Board Chair John Gourd said: “We are already committed to providing £3m to the further development of the Catalyst site and this project will significantly complement, enhance and accelerate that development. It will mark a significant leap forward in the on-going development of Catalyst’s Open Innovation Science Park and will consolidate Stevenage’s position at the centre of the Cambridge to London life-sciences cluster.”