Charnwood Campus: The ‘Living Lab’ in Leicestershire

The UK is at the leading edge of the global Life Sciences sector, employing c222,000 people and generating approx. £60.7bn of turnover, growing between 2-3% per annum. A sub-sector driving this growth is Medical Technologies (Med-Tech), for which the Midlands has been identified by the department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as the region where growth is at its strongest.

Set within a 70-acre life sciences technology park situated in Loughborough, Charnwood Campus is a biopharmaceutical site vacated by a pharmaceutical company several years go.

The vision is to develop the site into a key part of the UK’s Life Sciences Infrastructure and an environment to inspire, discover, encourage collaboration and accelerate business growth for the Med-Tech and Biopharma community.

Charnwood Campus is the UK’s first Life Science Opportunity Zone.  It will capitalise on local and regional strengths in the areas of precision medicine, provide clinical trials as a ‘living lab’ offered by the area’s diverse population, and develop of devices for trauma rehabilitation, assisted living and wearable technologies.

The region has a large, stable and ethnically diverse population that provides excellent opportunities for clinical studies and trials that are relevant not only to the West but to developing markets in Asia. This provides a potential springboard for companies to scale up and diversify into new and rapidly growing markets with population-relevant data.

We will celebrate the area’s diversity and the benefits this brings to clinical trials as a unique selling point, working with colleagues at Department for International Trade and Office for Life Sciences.

Opportunities at Charnwood Campus include:

  • Greater collaborative life sciences and innovations
  • Create eco-system to foster talent and linkages with companies
  • Attract new life science investment and companies as well as create growth space for small and start-up companies in med-tech and life sciences
  • Increase employment in life sciences in the region and attract and retain highly skilled graduates and apprentices

A key driver for the development of the site is Research excellence in the area.

Companies require access to patients to test new technologies. Discussions are advanced to locate a shared NHS Pathology Service (EMPATH) on campus serving the hospitals of Leicester, Nottingham and Loughborough, which would provide a route for diagnostic and therapeutic companies to access the knowledge and technology requirements for implementation within the health sector.

This model would also foster interactions with the Innovate Catapults in the areas of Discovery Medicine, Precision Medicine and Advanced Cell Therapies. This aligns with the agendas of the Universities and NHS in the region including the University of Leicester’s Precision Medicine Institute (LPMI; a collaborative venture between the University of Leicester and the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust). The University Hospitals of Leicester, Nottingham University Hospitals, Lincolnshire University Hospital and Derby Teaching Hospitals all have Clinical Research Facilities and NIHR and NHS R&D centres within the East Midlands.

The East Midlands Academic Health Services Network (EMAHSN) is an LSOZ partner and can provide access to these organisations. In addition to drug and diagnostics development the Midlands houses a large concentration of medical device companies with further potential to develop in this area by leveraging the wider technical design and manufacturing legacy/heritage of the region. The establishment of the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC) at Stanford Hall and the National Centre for Sports & Exercise Medicine (NCSEM-EM) makes the Charnwood site uniquely placed to support a Med-Tech cluster developing devices for trauma rehabilitation, assisted living and wearable technologies, an area of considerable future economic growth for the UK.

In addition, there are strong industry links. Charnwood Campus benefits from close proximity to existing companies including contract research and manufacturing organisations, suppliers of consumables and reagents for R&D facilities, providers of specialist analytical, regulatory, legal, IT, recruitment and logistics services

Also planned on site is an Innovation Centre.  The Innovation Centre will refurbish one of the existing high-quality laboratory buildings with colocated office space to create small scale, flexible space perfect for Life Sciences SMEs to start, develop and grow. The Centre will make use of the laboratories, providing tenants access to high specification infrastructure and machinery, re-instating these legacy assets for the benefit of future growth. The renovation of these assets is a key strength for the site as not only does it allow for rapid re-commissioning saving time but also cost compared to a new-build.

The Innovation Centre will provide space for a training hub on the site to support the interchange between business and research and catalyse knowledge transfer activities. Fostering of partnerships between companies and HEIs, FE Colleges and Schools would provide mutually supportive project placements, internships and work experience to train the next generation of scientists required to keep the UK position as leaders in healthcare innovation. The facilities on the site (lecture theatre, meeting rooms, laboratories suitable for training), and within the estate of the neighbouring companies, provides ideal infrastructure to deliver this training. The University of Leicester is engaged in discussion to develop innovation training on site, working with the existing tenants and neighbouring companies. In addition to this, global companies 3M and Almac and Medilink EM are committed to offering opportunities to SMEs for additional training and mentoring to aid in their growth process.

More information: www.charnwoodcampus.com

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