Minister for Business and Industry, Nadhim Zahawi MP, spoke at Hertfordshire LEP's Annual Conference 2019 on 7th October, about how Government’s Industrial Strategy is creating the right conditions for local economic growth.

The Minister addressed a packed house of over 200 delegates at the conference, held at GSK, Stevenage, where Hertfordshire LEP set out an economic roadmap for future shared prosperity within the county. The Minister also announced the designation of Stevenage as a Life Sciences Opportunity Zone, as a result of a bid led by Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst. Learn more.

Dean Cook, Associate Programme Director, UKRI Strength in Places Fund, spoke about innovation and the importance of place. Dean is Head of Regional Engagement for Innovate UK, the national innovation agency.

The conference was opened by Robert Voss CBE, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Hertfordshire. Other key speakers included Steven Howe, Head of Cell and Gene Therapy Process Research, GSK; Keith Thompson, CEO, Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult; and Sally Ann Forsyth, CEO, Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, who spoke about how they are building a world-class cluster in advanced therapies on the GSK campus and its positive impact on UK plc.

Bim Afolami, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, and Cllr David Williams, Leader, Hertfordshire County Council and Hertfordshire LEP Board Member, spoke about the wider implications of growth on Hertfordshire’s people and places.

The conference attracted significant interest and was attended by Dr Barbara Gibson, Liberal Democrat MEP for the East of England, and senior government officials from the Department for International Trade, including the Office for Life Sciences, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The event, which has become a key fixture in the county’s business calendar, attracted over 200 representatives from Hertfordshire’s major corporates and research and education institutions, including Airbus, MBDA, Rothamsted Research, Royal Veterinary Collage and the University of Hertfordshire, as well as local authority leaders and delegates from SMEs, not-for-profit and membership organisations.

A Local Industrial Strategy for Hertfordshire

Hertfordshire LEP set out how it will play to its key sector strengths to deliver a Local Industrial Strategy for Hertfordshire and create the foundations for inclusive growth.

Stevenage is at the heart of a medical revolution due to the clustering of R&D excellence on the GSK campus. The LEP’s investment has reinforced Hertfordshire’s position as a world-class hub for the development of cell and gene therapies thanks to the unique co-location of GSK, Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst and Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult’s Manufacturing Centre.

The Local Industrial Strategy recognises the importance of this globally significant sector to Hertfordshire’s future economy and explores the possibility of creating a “science corridor” along the A1(M) – from Hatfield through Stevenage towards the north Hertfordshire towns.

The Local Industrial Strategy will also be an integral part of the wider Hertfordshire growth plan and positions the LEP as key drivers of it.

Ahead of the Annual Conference, Mark Bretton, Chair, Hertfordshire LEP, said: “This conference gives us the opportunity to share the progress we have made and our collective vision for Hertfordshire’s long-term future. The strategy sets out future scenarios based on extensive analysis and engagement carried out by the LEP over nearly two years and represents one of the biggest opportunities yet to alter the county’s future economic path and make the economy as resilient as possible.”

Sally Ann Forsyth, CEO, Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, said: “I am delighted to have been invited to speak at this pivotal event for the region and discuss the continued support of the Hertfordshire LEP for the life science sector. This has strengthened Stevenage’s position as a globally recognised hub for cell and gene therapy, attracting international companies, investment and jobs to the area.”

Keith Thompson, CEO, Cell & Gene Therapy Catapult, said: “We are delighted to support the Hertfordshire LEP Annual Conference. Stevenage has become the go to location for cell and gene therapy development and manufacturing, and the Hertfordshire LEP has been a key supporter of the cell and gene therapy cluster. This includes providing match funding for the expansion of our advanced analytics capability at the CGT Catapult manufacturing centre."

The public consultation period for the draft Local Industrial Strategy ran from 9th September to 14th October - ending one week after the Annual Conference - to allow for maximum engagement before the LEP enters a co-design process with Government. The feedback gathered will be used to further refine the final strategy, which is expected to be published in early 2020.

View the draft Local Industrial Strategy.