Tuesday, November 24, 2020

University seeks to drive biomedical innovation at first UK Life Sciences Opportunity Zone

Together with the site owners, Charnwood Campus and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership, the University of Leicester is seeking to establish a new Innovation Centre at the UK’s first ever Life Sciences Opportunity Zone in Charnwood, near Loughborough, to accelerate business growth for the med-tech and biopharma community.

The envisaged Innovation Centre would foster collaboration between businesses and academics. It would build on local and regional strengths in precision medicine and clinical trials as well as in drug development, trauma rehabilitation, assisted living and wearable technologies. The Centre would create a “safe space” for new business spin-outs and start-ups and provide space for a training hub on the site to support the interchange between business and research and catalyse knowledge transfer activities.

Global companies 3M and Almac and Medilink EM are committed to offering opportunities to SMEs for additional training and mentoring to aid in their growth process.

The Innovation Centre is planned to be established in one of the existing high-quality laboratory buildings with co-located office space to create small scale, flexible space perfect for business start-up and growth.

Professor Iain Gillespie, pro-vice-chancellor for research & enterprise, said: “The announcement of the Life Sciences Opportunity Zone and funding for improved access to it is of huge importance to the regional economy. It will attract major companies to the zone – and the University of Leicester has been fundamentally instrumental with the LLEP in making this happen.

“Our involvement in the Midlands Engine Science and Innovation Audit, in leading the LSOZ bid technical working group and in leading follow-up discussions with the Office for Life Sciences (OLS) on what the status means and what implementation means has been crucial”.

Gosia Khrais, commercial and marketing director at Charnwood Campus, said: “We have been working tirelessly on developing Charnwood Campus into a thriving and successful centre of excellence. Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership, our local council, University of Leicester and other partners including 3M and Almac were instrumental in bringing the bid for LSOZ to fruition. This designation further confirms site-readiness for business. The news comes just a few weeks after the government’s announcement that we were awarded the EZ status and a few days after the confirmation that 3M will relocate to our excellent facilities. We could not dream of a more promising start of the year and look forward to the positive impact this will have on local businesses and the residents”.

Simon Holmes, country business leader, health mare Markets, 3M, said: “As a science-based technology company and a member of the taskforce advocating the LSOZ designation, 3M is delighted to hear of the site’s success. As a future occupant of Charnwood Campus, we look forward to being at the centre of the development of this valuable asset on both a local and global stage”.

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