Sponsors Abel + Imray chairing a discussion with Quentin Harmer, CTO of Endomag
Recently, UK-based life sciences hub Discovery Park hosted its first Innovation Summit, with a focus on how technology and artificial intelligence (AI) is advancing exponentially and revolutionising the sector.
The event attracted more than 300 ‘life sciences leaders’ to the 220-acre science and technology campus in Sandwich, Kent and marked a decade of growth for the hub.
The summit included a session focused on driving innovation through creative and breakthrough thinking, hosted by the founder and chief executive officer of the Ideas Centre Group, David Hall.
A panel discussion on the digital future of healthcare was held and topics such as AI and big data, ensuring intellectual property is aligned to a company’s growth, and the challenge of remaining innovative were covered by experts throughout the day.
Also presenting at the summit was national innovation agency Innovate UK, which highlighted support for UK companies with a total portfolio of £6bn of public money. Its session included information on government focus areas, such as precision neuroscience, as well as opportunities for collaboration and grants accepting applications.
Key speakers and panellists included representatives from Discovery Park anchor tenant Pfizer, as well as GrowUp Farms, Digital Catapult and Cancer Research Horizons.
Discovery Park is currently home to more than 160 companies and around 3,500 employees and aims to become a ‘world-leading science park’ over the next five years.
The site offers laboratory, office and manufacturing facilities and has a wide range of occupants, including Viatris, Concept Life Sciences, Transpharmation, Canterbury AI, Psyros and Unilabs Tork Bioanalytical Solutions.
In 2020, it was recognised as a ‘Life Science Opportunity Zone’ – a government initiative designed to showcase some of the UK’s best science park opportunities for life sciences investors.
George Freeman, Minister of State at the new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, commended the hub on its growth over the past decade: “The success of Discovery Park is the result of a strategic long-term public/private partnership between government in London and Kent.
“Having helped set up the Discovery Park Task Force and Life Science Opportunity Zones in the coalition government ten years ago it is great to see how Discovery Park is now a world-class incubator of new life sciences technologies and companies – as this summit of 300 life science leaders shows.”
Discovery Park’s chief executive officer, Mayer Schreiber, added that its success had been “built on creating the right environment to equip early-stage and scale-up businesses, combined with the government’s commitment to nurturing innovation and backing for the high-growth industries of today and tomorrow, to succeed”.
“Our work has helped foster partnership, promote skills and unlock finance and business support,” he said. “As a Life Sciences Opportunity Zone, Discovery Park is perfectly placed to nurture a culture of innovation. Life sciences and technology remain areas of priority for investment from the government, so it’s imperative we unite different industries and academia to share experiences and learnings.”
Already looking ahead, the team at Discovery Park also outlined its plans for the next ten years, including creating a national centre of excellence for neuroscience, alongside life sciences, agri-tech and renewable energy technologies, and doubling the number of people employed on site.
Schreiber said: “We are confident that, thanks to our continued investment in the park including our new life sciences incubator building, we can attract more world-class businesses.
“I’m very excited by our plans for the future, working in partnership with tenants, local and national government. Within our existing building footprint, we have the space and infrastructure to double the number of jobs on site within the next ten years.”
Emily Kimber is Deputy Editor at PMGroup
3rd November 2023