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A Life science's strategy for the East

A Life science's strategy for the East

The purpose of this paper is to draw attention to the important clusters in Cambridge,  Norwich and Stevenage and how they can form the basis for a regional Life Science Strategy  creating investment, jobs, and growth for the East of England and UK PLC. 

Life sciences industries are one of the nation’s key strategic sectors where the UK has a clear  longstanding strength and comparative advantage. It was worth over £94 billion to the UK  economy in 2021, a 9% increase on the year before, and projected to grow globally.

Life Sciences encompass a broad range of disciplines, technologies and businesses including,  R&D intensive activities and manufacturing. In terms of the number of businesses and  employees Life Science industries are relatively small compared to other sectors but they  represent a disproportionately high share of the UK’s gross value added (GVA). In 2019  pharmaceutical products accounted for 3 per cent of UK exports and 1 per cent of total UK  gross value added, this despite the pharmaceutical industry’s labour-intensive supply chain  being in India or China. Smaller, but innovative, Life sciences industries (i.e. pharmaceuticals)  accounted for 1 per cent of GVA (2019) and 1 per cent of employment.

We would like to thank Prashant Shah, Roz Bird and Sally Ann Forsyth for their contributions to this  report:

Prashant Shah is co-CEO and co-founder of o2h group, leading the  development of the Mill SciTech Park, supporting the creation of  innovative life science and tech-bio companies. Prashant’s CV  includes a current portfolio of positions including as chair of Form the  Future CIC as well as board positions at the UK Science Park  Association and DeepMirror. He is also a driving force behind  community-focused initiatives such as Cambridge Wide Open Day,  supporting the developments in the Life Science sector in sustainable  growth and equity for all stakeholders. 

Roz Bird joined Norwich Research Park as Chief Executive Officer of  Anglia Innovation Partnership, the science park management  company, in May 2022. Roz has had a very successful career  managing urban regeneration projects and science parks in  Cambridge, Silverstone, Milton Keynes and Bristol. She joined AIP LLP  after 15 years with MEPC Ltd – a commercial property company – where she was commercial director. Previous to that she was  business development manager at the UK Science Park Association. 

Dr Sally Ann Forsyth OBE is CEO of Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst and  NED of Life Science REIT. Sally Ann has been responsible for the  strategy, growth and development of four internationally recognised  science clusters: Harwell Oxford, Colworth Science Park, Norwich  Research Park and Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst. She began her  career with Unilever where she was head of Strategic Alliances and  part of the founding team of Unilever Ventures. She gained her  property experience through Goodman International where she was  Director of Science Parks responsible for the development and  management of their UK portfolio. In 2020 she was awarded an OBE  for services to Business and Science.

Press Release
June 2024
Key findings:
  • The central provocation is that the life science sector needs a regional strategy  that can maximise the opportunities that exist in the East. According to official sources, there are 1,007 life science business in the East of England,  13.3% of the UK total (7,599). Approximately 40% of all businesses in the East are located in  Cambridge (406 companies). 

  • The relative  proximity of Cambridge, Norwich, Stevenage and the confluence of advances in science and technologies,  provides the opportunity to explore the inter-related scientific, technology and industrial  development of the eastern region of the UK.

  • We need to explore a strategy for the related and complementary industrial development of  the eastern region as a whole. Examples of ‘spillover’ from Cambridge include downstream  drugs manufacturing, re-applying expertise in genomics to the agri-sector, or deep  knowledge in biological sciences to the green economy.

  • Local plans must identify and prioritise commercial sites to provide more and better lab  space. Local transport plans need to provide better connectivity between research parks  and rural towns and villages. Local skills improvement plans must prioritise education and  training pathways into new industries.

  • Collaboration must be the driving purpose.

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