Wales gets world class life sciences business development centre
22 July 2014
The Life Sciences Hub Wales was officially opened by Welsh Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, Edwina Hart on 17 July.
The aim of the Hub, which is located in the Cardiff Bay area, is to create a vibrant life sciences ecosystem bringing together academic, business, clinical, professional services and funding organisations so business and innovation can flourish.
Combined with the £100 million Life Sciences Investment Fund, the Hub will be used to connect the life sciences sector throughout Wales, attract new sector opportunities and investment, nurture emerging projects, and accelerate the growth of the sector in Wales to create jobs and economic growth.
“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. 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 has 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.
Edwina Hart, Wales’ Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, 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.”
The Life Sciences Hub
The Hub has high-quality meeting space to host events and training, videoconferencing 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 pharmaceutical companies 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:
Anchor tenants already secured include Johnson & Johnson Innovation and GE Healthcare. Other members include; BBI Healthcare, Finance Wales and Arthurian Life Sciences and a range of blue-chip professional advisers including Geldards, Broomfield Alexander and Withers & Rogers. The membership application process is still open, although the hub is now at over 50% capacity.