The Life Sciences Hub will collaborate with other centres of life sciences excellence in the UK and already has a co-operation agreement in place with MedCity

The Welsh Government has today (17th July 2014) launched the Life Sciences Hub Wales, a national and international focal point for the Life Sciences and Healthcare sectors in Wales.

The Life Sciences Hub will be based in the heart of Cardiff Bay and will create a vibrant and prosperous Life Sciences ecosystem bringing together academic, business, clinical, professional services and funding organisations to provide a commercially-driven melting pot of talent.

Combined with the £100 million Life Sciences Investment Fund, the largest dedicated investment fund for any sector in Wales, the launch of the Life Sciences Hub will place Wales on the world stage for Life Sciences innovation and development. The Life Sciences Hub and the Investment Fund will be used to connect the Life Sciences sector throughout Wales, will attract new sector opportunities and investment, nurture emerging Life Sciences projects, and accelerate the growth of the Life Sciences sector in Wales to create jobs and economic growth.

The Life Sciences Hub Wales, in Cardiff Bay, will be officially opened today by Welsh Minister for Economy, Science and Transport Edwina Hart. Also in attendance will be Prof Chris McGuigan, chair of Life Sciences Hub Wales, and Life Sciences Entrepreneur Prof Sir Chris Evans, together with businessman Theo Paphitis, of BBC Dragons’ Den fame.

Edwina Hart, Wales’ Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science, said: “The Hub will cover all elements from funding to business support to international development and promotion, bringing the Life Sciences sector together for easy access by both Welsh Life Sciences companies and inward investors. The £100 million Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund will be a key part of the support available to businesses, alongside other forms of finance and the Hub is central to our long-term strategy to grow the sector to deliver at least £1 billion of extra value by 2022.”

Professor Chris McGuigan, said: “Wales has excellent credentials in the Life Sciences world – with World leading Anchor companies like GE, International excellence in research in our Universities and 100s of SMEs active in the area. The Life Sciences Hub will provide a central focus for the sector within a stone’s throw of the Welsh Government. With access to top level advice and funding this will become the true Dragons’ den, supporting Life Sciences innovation and cutting edge research in Wales. If you are in Life Sciences and in Wales you need to be in the Hub.”

Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor of London for Business and Enterprise said: “The UK already has an incredibly vibrant life sciences industry but if we are serious about maximising its enormous potential and transforming it into a major driver of our economy, the entire country needs to work more closely to share ideas and expertise and tap into our deep reserves of entrepreneurial spirit.

“I am delighted that MedCity now has a cooperation agreement in place with the Life Sciences Hub Wales. We look forward to a long a fruitful relationship with the Hub as we work together to cement the UK’s status as one of the leading countries in the world for life sciences research, development and commercialisation.”

£100m Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund

The £100m Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund was launched at the BioWales Conference in March 2013. The Welsh Government has invested £50 million into the Fund which will be managed by Arthurian Life Sciences Limited, established by serial biotech entrepreneur Professor Sir Chris Evans OBE. Arthurian has committed to raising another £50 million for the Fund.

The Fund has already made four strategic investments, committing £20 million of funding to the Welsh Life Sciences sector to date. These investments include the Merthyr Tydfil-based clinical trials business Simbec Research, where the Fund provided initial growth funding and then more recently a second round to fund the merger with Orion Clinical Services. Simbec has grown from a business generating revenues of £5m and employing 80 people, to a multi-site business with 250 staff across Europe expected to generate turnover of £25m this year. The Fund also invested in cell therapy specialists, ReNeuron Group, as part of a financing round to fund the relocation of operations and establishment of a state-of-the-art cell manufacturing and development facility at Pencoed Technology Park, near Cardiff, due to complete in Spring 2015. An investment was also made in Verona Pharma, which develops drugs for respiratory disease, to further advance the drugs currently undergoing clinical trials. Verona, like ReNeuron Group, is listed on the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market, and is an example of where the Arthurian fund has encouraged co-investors to participate in funding rounds, attracting additional external investment into the Life Sciences sector in Wales.

Sir Chris Evans, said: “Often the hardest part of being an emerging business or an entrepreneur in the Life Sciences space is having the availability of funds. But not just that, it’s also having access to the pooled experience and knowledge of those who have done it before and the professional bodies and advisers who regularly serve our industry. I’m delighted that Wales has today made those key elements readily available through the Fund and the Life Sciences Hub and it shows to the rest of the world that Wales is a great place for Life Sciences innovation.”

Dragons’ Den star and one of the UK’s leading businessmen Theo Paphitis commented: “The UK’s economic growth is dependent on us tapping into the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that our country is so proud of. Whether it be in the retail world or in Life Sciences, what we need is Government to support growth and a shared passion for success. The launch of the Hub shows that this is alive and well in Wales for Life Sciences and with initiatives like this improving lives and creating more jobs – I’m in!”

About the Life Sciences Hub

The Life Sciences Hub will be based on the second floor of 3 Assembly Square, Britannia Quay, overlooking Cardiff Bay and within walking distance of the seat of Welsh Government, the Senedd. The Hub will offer high-quality meeting space with wifi access, space to host events and training, video conferencing and a media room as well as access to the Life Sciences team from the Welsh Government, representatives of the Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund and a range of support from professional advisers, patent agents and technology transfer specialists. There will be an active events programme and the venue will provide a lively central Hub for Universities and academics, clinicians, SMEs and Big Pharma to interact with each other and representatives from NHS Wales, clinical experts, healthcare organisations, providers of finance and other advisors.

The Hub has four clear goals:

  • To connect and concentrate the Life Sciences sector in Wales
  • To attract new Life Sciences opportunities and investment
  • To nurture and accelerate the growth of Life Sciences businesses in Wales
  • To create economic growth, wealth and new jobs

Anchor tenants already secured include Johnson & Johnson Innovation and GE Healthcare and other members include Arthurian Life Sciences, Finance Wales, Fusion IP and BBI Healthcare.

The Hub will be operated through Life Sciences Hub Wales Ltd, and will be run by Dr Ian Barwick, Chief Operating Officer. Dr Barwick has experience of working in Life Sciences across the academic, public and commercial sectors. Prof. Chris McGuigan is Executive Chairman and will be supported by the following members of the Life Sciences Hub Wales Board:

  • Professor Marc Clement – Executive Chairman Institute of Life Science, Swansea University
  • Professor Sir Chris Evans –  Chair, Excalibur Fund Managers and Arthurian Life Sciences
  • Dr Colin Greengrass – Management Board Life Sciences Research Network, ex Pfizer Alliances
  • Dr Grahame Guilford – Life Sciences Consultant, ex Amersham International
  • Ciaran McMahon – Regional Finance Director and Company Secretary Biomet UK Ltd and Biomet UK (Healthcare) Ltd
  • Dr Penny Owen – Product Planning Manager, GE Healthcare
  • Dr Martino Picardo – CEO of the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst

Sêr Cymru – National Research Network in Health and Life Sciences

In addition to the Hub and the Life Sciences Fund, the Welsh Government has launched Sêr Cymru, a £50m scheme to enhance and build on the research capacity in Wales. Prof. Chris McGuigan is also head of the National Research Network in Health and Life Sciences which provides co-funding to researchers in the area of drug discovery and development for unmet medical needs.

The Life Sciences Hub will collaborate with other centres of Life Sciences excellence in the UK and already has a co-operation agreement in place with MedCity, an initiative launched by Mayor of London Boris Johnson in April this year that brings together the Life Sciences specialists in London, Oxford and Cambridge.

To apply for Membership of the Hub please contact lifesciences@wales.gsi.gov.uk; or call 03000 60 3000 or go on line via: www.lifescienceshubwales.com.

Media contacts details

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Paul McManus – 07980 541893 / paul.mcmanus@walbrookpr.com

Rebecca Goodhand – 07794 560361 / Rebecca.goodhand@cakecomms.co.uk