Manufacturing centre update: Why Stevenage?

Construction started on the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult manufacturing centre in November 2015. Here we explain the story behind it's location. 

Analysis conducted by the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult showed that the UK’s small-scale academic facilities were an excellent source of materials for early-stage clinical trials, however their capacity was limited. It was clear that facilities were needed for later-stage cell and gene therapy clinical studies and commercialisation.

In March 2014 the budget revealed that, in order to overcome this barrier, the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult would receive £55m of funding to build a new UK cell and gene therapy manufacturing centre.

Press release: Budget unveils £55m large-scale Cell Therapy Manufacturing Centre for the UK

Today’s announcement is a positive endorsement from Government of the rapid progress Catapults are making in helping UK businesses accelerate the commercialisation of new and innovative technologies.

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, commenting on the Budget.

In 2014 it was announced that the Cell and Gene Therapy manufacturing centre would be built in Stevenage.

Press release: Cell Therapy Catapult to create cutting-edge global manufacturing site in Stevenage

Stevenage met all of the location criteria including being less than 24 hours away from major European clinical centres. Its close proximity to international air transport links at London Heathrow airport will enable the time critical transport of patients cells to and from the developer facility. The transport options are also cost effective, and the distribution network resilient and robust.

The area will allow for the attraction and retention of the key talent required in the cutting edge cell and gene therapy manufacture industry. The nature of the facility means that highly qualified and trained personnel will be required to achieve robust manufacture and quality assurance.

Stevenage is also at the centre of a growing cluster, and on top of having room for the 5000m2 centre footprint, the location also allows for expansion of a technology support cluster around the new facility.

This therapy is at the very cutting edge of medical research, and is using our own cells in the fight against life-threatening diseases including cancer. This state of the art facility in Stevenage will ensure Britain can be a real leader in this industry.

Business Secretary, Vince Cable.

Turf cutting ceremony, November 2015

Construction was initiated at the site in November 2015 and the centre is due to open in 2017. Visit the latest updates page to see the centres progress.