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Tuesday 21 July 2015

Zoning in on nurturing next generation of life-science world-beaters


Proposals for new ‘zones’ to nurture the next generation of hi-tech science sites have been put to Ministers by a group of top industry and public sector leaders – including Cheshire East Council Leader Michael Jones.

The group has been developing an innovative new policy to support the life science industry. It follows a meeting with Minister for Life Sciences George Freeman earlier this year.

The report of the group, chaired by Cllr Jones and drawn from across the country, proposes new Science Opportunity Zones – which would be applied to the most successful and promising life-science sites across the UK.

The new zone status would be a new step in the partnership between industry and government to support the growth of the life-science sector and builds on many of the strengths of the existing Enterprise Zone programme.

The report reviews experiences from the development of leading life-science sites across the country and considers how the status could be used to support them by mobilising key stakeholders, facilitating planning, attracting investment and supporting the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The proposals come as Cheshire East Council last week welcomed news of further Government investment in the bioscience industry at Alderley Park.

After submitting the report, Cllr Jones said: “Given our recent experiences in successfully supporting the next chapter of growth at Alderley Park, we have been able to work with colleagues from industry and other local authorities to look at the collective lessons we have all faced and to look at the best examples from other countries.

“Science Opportunity Zone status is a way that we can make sure that our best life-science sites are able to grow and that, crucially, they can compete with the very best sites globally.

“I commend the work of my colleagues from the private sector and local authorities in Kent and Dover for their support in developing these exciting proposals.

“This is just another demonstration of Cheshire East Council’s absolute commitment to supporting the life-science sector, both here in Cheshire East and more widely.”

The Chancellor, George Osborne MP, unveiled a £5m fund to kick start a new research programme in pharmaceuticals and technologies at Alderley Park when he visited the research centre last week.

The Tatton MP said the best of the UK’s businesses, scientists, clinicians and engineers will work side-by-side in the new ‘catapult in medicines technologies.’

The programme will further boost the economic recovery of Alderley Park and play a key role in the bioscience element in the vision for the Northern Powerhouse.

Cheshire East Council has a 10 per cent stake in the Manchester Science Partnership which aims to build on Alderley Park’s international reputation as a centre of excellent in the world of bioscience and life science research and development.

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