Life sciences boom at Harwell Campus

In just five years, the HealthTec Cluster at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Science Vale UK has tripled in size, creating more than 700 new jobs.

The network of life sciences-focused businesses, academia and national research infrastructure (STFC), led by a dedicated Science and Technology Facilities (STFC) team launched with 19 organisations in 2016.

The cluster has brought more than 40 new organisations to the campus since then, enhancing its position as a national hub for the life sciences. Today the cluster is home to more than 66 organisations employing more than 1,250 people.

The cluster celebrated its fifth anniversary this week with an event attended by Vaccines Minister, Nadhim Zahawi:

  • laying out the role Harwell plays in pandemic preparedness
  • ensuring the UK remains attractive to investors from around the world.

Vaccines Minister, Nadhim Zahawi, said:

The Harwell HealthTec Cluster plays a pivotal role in the ground-breaking innovation that leads to better outcomes for patients across the country. Not only has it created hundreds of new jobs, but it has also brought in significant inward investment to the UK.

Our Life Sciences Vision sets out our ambition to stimulate a thriving UK life sciences sector over the next decade. Working with partners like the HealthTec Cluster, the Vision will address some of the biggest healthcare problems of our generation and build on the successes of the COVID-19 response as we all work to build back better.

Hub for life sciences
Harwell Campus was designated a Life Sciences Opportunity Zone by the UK government in 2020. This is one of only seven in the UK. This perfectly positions the campus to attract investment to the sector, establish trade agreements and provide a launch platform for companies.

The cluster is a network of experienced scientists with cutting edge facilities to tackle some of the most pressing issues in life sciences. The environment created by the cluster allows researchers and industry professionals to share expertise and skills easily, creating impactful progress for the entire sector.

Dr Barbara Ghinelli, STFC’s Director of Clusters and Harwell Campus Business Development, said:

The growth and impact of the HealthTec cluster cements Harwell’s position as a key location for life sciences organisations in the UK.

The cross-disciplinary knowledge and skills that exist across our collaborative science and technology community are unparalleled, and support organisations from start-ups and scale-ups to large corporates to accelerate their research, validate their technology and increase our pandemic preparedness.

As part of the fifth anniversary event, we are launching a refreshed ten-year Cluster strategy which addresses the emerging challenges highlighted in the government’s UK Life Sciences Vision.

Responding to COVID-19
The HealthTec Cluster’s role in the COVID-19 response demonstrates its capability. The following research organisations have all come together to provide fundamental input to the UK government’s vaccines taskforce:

Diamond Light Source
Research Complex at Harwell (RCaH)
Rosalind Franklin Institute
Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC)
University of Oxford.

The addition of new capabilities like The Franklin, Nucleic Acid Therapy Accelerator (NATA) and VMIC to the already-thriving cluster, has contributed to a step change in the UK’s ability to generate ground-breaking innovation.

Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at University of Oxford, launched the Harwell HealthTec Cluster in 2016 and has played a pivotal role in shaping the UK Life Sciences Vision. He said:

Since it launched in 2016, the Harwell HealthTec cluster’s unique ecosystem and world leading facilities have helped the UK to accelerate the discovery and development of new vaccines, advanced medicines, next generation imaging technologies and diagnostics. Improving its future pandemic preparedness and enabling ground-breaking treatments for healthcare challenges.