Stevenage has been classified by the Department for International Trade (DIT) as a High Potential Opportunity (HPO) zone in recognition of its leading cell and gene therapy cluster.

The Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) had made the nomination, and this is expected to attract further overseas investment into Hertfordshire.

What Does the Stevenage Cluster Do?

Stevenage has the largest cell and gene therapy cluster outside of the US. The campus provides 1,000 jobs and houses 45 companies, 13 of which are in the cell and gene therapy space.

The campus had already been awarded the Life Science Opportunity Zone status for advanced therapies in 2019 by the Office for Life Sciences. Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst occupiers have raised over £1.6bn of investment to date, with two thirds of that having been in cell and gene therapy companies. The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, which has its Manufacturing Centre at the site, has been central to the UK's growing cell and gene therapy industry.

How Can It Benefit from HPO Status?

DIT's High Potential Opportunities programme encourages and accelerates foreign direct investment into the UK's key growth sectors, in line with Government's Industrial Strategy. HPO status provides specific commercial opportunities to potential overseas investors. This can help to accelerate growth of business and industry, boost local job creation and prosperity, and strengthen the UK's sectorial advantage.

HPO status will enable the cell and gene therapy cluster around Stevenage to be promoted further globally and bring further opportunities for growth. 

Nitin Dahad, Chair of Hertfordshire LEP's Enterprise & Innovation Board, said:

"The HPO underlines the significance of Hertfordshire's burgeoning advanced therapies cluster to UK plc, as well as its major growth potential. The sheer concentration of cell and gene expertise, R&D and manufacturing capability in Stevenage makes a compelling case for the inward investment needed to catalyse expansion and create high quality local jobs."

Matthew Durdy, Chief Executive Officer at Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, commented:

"The UK cell and gene therapy industry is continuing to grow thanks to the strong Government backing and the unique supportive ecosystem that enables companies to develop and therapies to reach patients effectively.  With one in four European cell and gene therapy companies already operating here, and the UK accounting for 12% of the global clinical trials, we are looking forward to this additional recognition providing further opportunities to develop additional capabilities for the UK to maintain its world renowned position."

Sally Ann Forsyth, Chief Executive Officer at Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, said: "We are delighted that Stevenage is being recognised for its significant contribution to the cell and gene therapy field. The new HPO status ensures we can support the pioneering work of our occupiers and continue to grow as Europe's cell and gene therapy hub."

The Hertfordshire LEP is also helping to fund a new Cell and Gene Integration Lab in Stevenage to cultivate the skills pipeline crucial to meeting current and future business needs. The lab will harness the expertise of the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and provide the UK's first digital training centre specifically equipped for advanced therapy manufacturing. 

Hear More about the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and UK's World-Leading Exploits

This is exciting news and shows how the UK continues to be at the forefront of exciting developments in this area. Our annual PING Conference this year is under the theme 'Britain's Great Life Sciences Future - Genomics, Personalised Medicine and AI' and is taking place on 26 November.

Amongst the speakers will be the Catapult's Matthew Durdy, as we as others from Genomics England, Deloitte, Congenica, Benevolent AI and others. 

At the virtual PING Conference, we have a packed programme and a great opportunity to network with over 150 delegates from across the biopharma ecosystem. 

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