Nadhim Zahawi MP has announced that Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC) has been successful in its application to become a Life Sciences Opportunity Zone.

The assessment panel consisted of senior industry life science experts and senior government officials. In a letter to Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst Chief Executive Officer Dr Sally Ann Forsyth, the Minister stated: “l am delighted to tell you that your application has been successful. The panel were impressed by your plans to grow what is already a successful biomedical campus.”

The Minister made the formal announcement at Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Annual Conference on Monday 7th October, addressing 200 delegates. The audience heard how GlaxoSmithKline, Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and SBC have built a world-class cluster in advanced therapies on the Campus that is delivering a positive impact on UK plc and global healthcare.

Hertfordshire LEP Annual Conference - 7 October 2019 at GSK, Stevenage

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 research, development and manufacturing. This unique co-location has been a key driver of growth in this revolutionary therapy area. Occupiers of the SBC Campus have raised almost £1bn of investment, of which over 60% has been invested into cell and gene therapy companies.

Dr Sally Ann Forsyth, Chief Executive Officer at Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, commented: “We are delighted to receive Life Sciences Opportunity Zone designation for the Stevenage Advanced Therapeutics Campus. I would like to thank our supporting partners in the successful bid, namely GlaxoSmithKline, Cell & Gene Therapy Catapult, LifeArc, Kadans Science Partner, University of Hertfordshire, Royal Veterinary College and Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership. I look forward to working together to accelerate the growth of this globally recognised cluster for advanced therapeutics.”

Paul Witcombe, Head of Enterprise and Innovation, Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (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.”

Dr Stephen Ward, Chief Manufacturing Officer, Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, stated: “The global uniqueness of having research, development and manufacturing closely connected within the campus and its surrounding geography is a key driver for growth and needs to be capitalised upon to ensure the economic and health benefits can be fully realised for the UK.”

Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst is one of six Life Sciences Opportunity Zones that will connect together to promote the sector on an international stage.

In the second Life Sciences Sector Deal, the government committed to take action to help areas with clear life sciences strengths to grow. Life Sciences Opportunity Zones (LSOZ) are a key part of this and will promote life science parks to potential investors. They highlight the opportunities of the area, such as vacant lab space, land to build new facilities, or links with higher education, amongst others. This helps to deliver the recommendation of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy for government to support the growth of life sciences clusters.

In its emerging Local Industrial Strategy, Hertfordshire LEP recognises the importance of this sector to the local and UK economy. Over the past decade, it states, the county has excelled in growing a cell and gene cluster which is of global significance. “This must flourish with synergistic links to London and Cambridge...there is a particular concentration on which to build along a “science corridor” along the A1(M) – from Hatfield through Stevenage towards the north Hertfordshire towns.”