A five-year mission to cement the reputation of Darlington and the Tees Valley as one of the UK’s centres of bioscience innovation has been endorsed by a panel of leading industry experts.
A bioscience industry workshop, organised by Teesside University’s National Horizons Centre, featuring leaders from national and international businesses and organisations gave its wholehearted support to the centre’s ambitious five-year business plan which aims to significantly grow the skills and capacity of the UK’s bioscience industry and includes the recruiment of 15 senior staff and academics.
The panel included senior figures from several leading organisations across the life sciences sector including FUJIFILM Diosynth Technologies, Cogent Skills, the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC), the Academic Health Science Network, Alderley Park and TotalLab.
The members agreed that the exciting vision would provide a rich pipeline of graduate talent to the life sciences sector while helping to grow the UK bioindustry through industry-focused training, research and partnerships.
The £22.3m National Horizon’s Centre (NHC), which is based at Teesside University’s Darlington campus at Central Park, is a national centre of excellence for the bioscience industry, which provides training, research and talent to the life sciences sector to help it meet the challenges of the government’s industrial strategy.
Over the next five years, the National Horizons Centre will invest more than £2.5m to meet its aims.
Investments include the recruitment of 15 new staff including four senior academics at professor/reader level specialising in proteomics, translational healthcare, gene therapy and cell engineering, as well as a senior technician, experimental officers and a business innovation manager.
By the end of the five year-plan, up to 50 percent of the National Horizons Centre’s output will be focussed towards industrial collaboration and training.
The strategy will also develop the National Horizons Centre’s core strengths in biomanufacturing and biopharma, disease specific research in areas such as Alzheimer’s, cancer and Parkinson’s disease, and their early diagnosis, as well as digital technology and its application in the life sciences
The NHC also plans to develop key collaborations and strengthen the existing synergies between organisations at Darlington Central Park to ensure it continues to grow as a leading centre for bioprocessing and biopharma, attracting even more talent and investment.
Dr Kath Mackay, managing director of Bruntwood SciTech Alderley Park, said: “It’s great to see the National Horizons Centre establishing itself as a key organisation in the life science sector. There is real potential for the industrialisation of research and for hands on training opportunities to grow the UK’s biopharma workforce of the future.”
Dr Nicola Hutchinson, CEO of the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) North East and North Cumbria, said: ”The AHSN drives business growth across the region by supporting innovators to commercialise their health innovations and facilitate the spread and adoption of these life changing innovations across the health and care system.
“So, having the NHC based in our region is fantastic news and provides a huge opportunity for us to enable successful health innovators to access this world leading training centre to grow and scale their businesses.”
Mark Bustard, CEO of IBioIC said “It is great to see the ambitious goals the NHC has planned over the coming years and how the centre will help to bridge the bioscience skills gap in the UK and be a catalyst for industry-focussed bioscience innovation.
“Collaboration is the key to the success for the UK bioindustry and we see opportunities to work in partnership with NHC to support the economic and green recovery by providing a highly-skilled workforce to the UK’s bioindustry.”
Steve Bagshaw CBE, chief industry advisor to the NHC and chairman and former chief executive of FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnolgies, said: “Since opening in 2019, the NHC has already made a huge impact helping to grow the life sciences ecosystem here in the Tees Valley and developing the skills and talent needed for the jobs of the future
“These plans will build on these considerable achievements and this endorsement by industry peers are testament to the approach that the NHC has taken to ensure it is constantly working in partnership with and responsive to the demands of the sector.”
Dr Jen Vanderhoven, the director of the National Horizons Centre, said: “For the National Horizons Centre to succeed, it is vital that the work it is doing is focused on the needs of industry.
“Therefore, we are delighted that our strategy for the next five years has met with unanimous endorsement from our advisory board.
“Each of the board’s members has a huge amount of expertise and industry knowledge so it is fantastic that they feel we can match their expectations and enable the life sciences sector to flourish in the Tees Valley and beyond.”
For more information on the National Horizon’s Centre visit tees.ac.uk/nhc.