The company intends to sell 33 acres of land at its 92-acre R&D site in Stevenage, turning it into one of Europe’s largest ‘clusters’ for biotech and early-stage life science companies. It announced Friday it is formally seeking a development partner for the project: which it hopes to select by the end of the year.
Located just north of London, Stevenage is a key location for GSK: being one of the company’s two global R&D hubs. It is already the UK’s largest cell and gene therapy cluster, as well as being the third largest globally. The Stevenage site already hosts GSK’s R&D facilities, the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGTC), and the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC) – the latter of which is home to more than 40 companies.
The new campus – which would sit next to GSK’s existing site at Stevenage - could ultimately deliver 100,000 square meters of new floorspace for commercial life sciences R&D.
GSK believes the project can unlock up to £400m ($551m) in new investment from a private sector developer to build up the new campus. Its own R&D operations would remain unchanged. Master planning for the new campus is expected to start in 2022.
The new campus hopes to attract world-class research organisations to Stevenage: creating opportunities for collaboration in the life science ecosystem.
GSK notes that the CGTC and SBC have already attracted start-ups which have collectively raised around £1.6bn ($2.2bn) in funding.
These organisations were set up with a mixture of public and private sector support - including from GSK – and are both involved in the plans which should enable their expansion.
Tony Wood, Senior Vice President, Medicinal Science & Technology, GSK said: “The past 18 months has shown the UK life sciences sector at its best and the UK has recently unveiled an ambitious 10-year vision for the UK life sciences sector. Our goal is for Stevenage to emerge as a top destination for medical and scientific research by the end of the decade. We are excited to find a development partner to realise our vision to foster the next generation of world-class scientists and biotechnology firms in Britain.”
The UK Life Sciences Vision was published earlier this month, setting out plans to use the momentum of the COVID-19 response to develop the sector over the next 10 years.
The industry currently employs more than 250,000 people and generates an £80bn ($110bn) turnover a year.
Around 12% of cell and gene therapy trials globally happen in the UK; while the UK is the leading center in Europe for the development of Advanced Therapies, notes the report.
It adds that investment in science and research in Life Sciences must be maintained and grown over the next decade for the Vision to come to fruition, adding that the UK’s competitiveness as a globally leading location for life sciences is heavily reliant upon the UK’s science and research ecosystem.
The report identifies seven key healthcare challenges for the coming years: Cancer, Dementia, Mental Health, Obesity, Ageing, Respiratory Disease and Vaccines.