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Bolstering the North West’s position as a life science powerhouse

Medicines Discovery Catapult is driving the levelling up agenda in the North West of England, supporting the region’s fast-growing and increasingly significant life science industry.

The North West has a history of world-leading industrial and scientific innovation, this potential has seen the region identified as a priority focus for the levelling up initiative.

UK life sciences have traditionally been aligned to the South East but in recent years the North West has emerged as a new, strong contributor to this critical national sector, employing tens of thousands of local people and boasting a significant 38% of all UK pharmaceutical output with a turnover of over £6 million.

Medicines Discovery Catapult, alongside a healthy life sciences community, has an important part to play in this growth. Established in 2016 at the heart of the UK’s largest single-site life sciences campus, the Catapult is working with many other partners in the North West at Alderley Park, Cheshire to drive innovation.

By reshaping drug discovery for patient benefit, Medicines Discovery Catapult is transforming great UK science into better treatments through partnership. It works to tackle industry-led challenges, overcoming the barriers that limit today’s drug discovery with effective interventions. Industrialising new technologies, connecting the Life Sciences ecosystem, supporting drug discovery innovators and engaging in national life science policy initiatives.  

Medicines Discovery Catapult’s highly skilled team of over 130 offers access to capabilities in areas such as cell model analysis and validation, target and pathway engagement, drug delivery and biodistribution, biomarkers, informatics and a number of syndicates, bringing stakeholders together to drive innovation in key areas.

These capabilities have contributed towards regional companies raising over £85m of investment after support from Medicines Discovery Catapult.

Access to the Catapult’s facilities has been used extensively across the North West, in 28 collaborative projects and securing two collaborative research grants across 13 organisations in the area.

Medicines Discovery Catapult relaunched radiochemistry at Manchester’s Wolfson Molecular Imaging Centre (WMIC) in 2021 increasing the UK’s potential to discover new and better therapies for patients faster. The Catapult also accelerated the development and activity of the Covid-19 Alderley Park Lighthouse Lab during an unprecedented time of uncertainty for the UK, employing over 700 people.

More broadly, Medicines Discovery Catapult also brings science and expertise to the region from afar, completing 236 projects with 154 partners across the UK. Companies that have worked with the Catapult have attracted over £0.4bn in investment funding.

Speaking at the launch of the life sciences strategy in April 2016, George Freeman, MP said: “Through our life sciences strategy we are creating jobs, opportunities and security across the North. With its world-leading universities, innovative life sciences companies and millions of NHS patients across the region, the North has unique capabilities with excellent growth potential for international investors.”

Medicines Discovery Catapult’s contribution to the region through research infrastructure, skills development, strategic sectoral insights and collaborative opportunities is creating an increasingly buoyant life sciences industry within the North West – positively impacting employment, investment and innovation opportunities.

And progress doesn’t stop there – Medicines Discovery Catapult is now inspiring the North West’s future scientists. Working with the region’s Local Enterprise Partnership, Catapult scientists have hosted lessons with over 120 pupils, encouraging the future generation to choose a career in the North West’s thriving life science sector.

investment raised by UK companies post engagement with Medicines Discovery Catapult
investment raised regionally by North West companies post engagement with Medicines Discovery Catapult
highly skilled staff employed in the North West by the Catapult
collaborative projects in the region using Medicines Discovery Catapult’s facilities