Stevenage, which lies about 30 miles north of London, was named the UK’s first ‘New Town’ in 1946.
For many years its population relied on the engineering jobs and skills developed by British Aerospace.
But times have changed and today Stevenage stands at the forefront of an entirely new generation of advanced healthcare technology and discovery.
In fact, thanks to the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult – which was established to drive UK success in this sector – Stevenage is today recognised across the world as a centre of excellence for pioneering work on cell and gene therapy treatments and home to one of the world’s largest cluster of these businesses.
Cell and gene therapies are right on the cutting-edge of the latest medical research. The potential of this new technology is boundless – both in terms of addressing critical health problems, saving lives as well as the economic benefits that businesses in this rapidly growing sector can deliver.
This success began in 2012 when an initial £70m investment from government into the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult led to the development of the Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Stevenage. This offered a unique operating model with innovative processes which allowed cell and gene therapy companies to co-locate and grow with reduced risk.
And industry responded. Scores of companies are now based in Stevenage, many of which have raised more than £1bn. In recognition of this success, in 2020 Stevenage was designated a Life Science Opportunity Zone by the Office of Life Sciences (OLS) and as High Potential Opportunity area by the Department of International Trade (DIT).
The number of cell and gene therapy businesses in Stevenage continues to grow. As companies join and benefit from the existing facilities, they, in turn, encourage more investment, attracting more talent and bringing more benefits to the local area – all while developing therapies with life-changing potential for people all over the world.