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Healthcare & Life Sciences
North East England is committed to becoming one of the top 10 places in the world to do science-based business. The healthcare and life sciences industry is one of the key sectors helping to achieve this economic aim.
More than £200 million has been invested during the past six years to develop world leading expertise in emerging technologies and their commercial exploitation.
Significant investment has been made in the ageing and heatlh agenda with The Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle University already the largest in Europe and has the largest interdisciplinary research group in the field of ageing and age-related illnesses driving this forward.
At the forefront of this ambitious drive is the Centre of Excellence for Life Sciences (Cels), established with the support of One North East, and with strong backing from the region’s universities and business community.
Cels provides comprehensive support to healthcare and life science companies through Cels Business Services (CBSL). It also plays a key role in the commercial development of research discoveries, bringing professionals and organisations together through the HealthConnect network to share knowledge and collaborate on commercial opportunities.
Among the growing range of superb facilities in the North East is the £10 million Life Knowledge Park at the International Centre for Life in Newcastle. The Institute for Human Genetics based there - part of Newcastle University - is one of the top stem cell research centres in the world.
Newcastle is a designated city of science excellence. Under the banner of Newcastle Science City three themes in which the city is recognised as delivering cutting-edge research and innovation are promoted at a national and international level: Ageing & Health, Stem Cell Technology and Sustainability.
The 100,000 sq m Science Central site based in the heart of Newcastle city centre will focus on the development of sustainable sciences, offering teaching, R&D, business and incubation facilities where people from around the world will be able to study and work. Those located on the site will have access to cluster expertise working closely with other facilities in the region including, Narec, PETEC and the Wilton Centre. Phase 1 of the site build will commence in Spring 2011.
Science City works in tandem with NetPark at Sedgefield, Durham, which is home to start-up and leading edge companies specialising in healthcare and medical technologies.
Healthcare & Life Sciences
Areas of Expertise
Global pharmaceutical producers and smaller manufacturers, alongside specialist suppliers, form a major cluster in the North East, producing a third of all drugs made in the UK.
The area is poised to capitalise strongly on the shift in the industry towards pharmaceuticals made using advanced biotechnology.
This move has been aided by the opening of the Biopharmaceutical Bioprocessing Technology Centre at Newcastle University, which provides an umbrella for biologists, chemists and engineers conducting ground-breaking research and developing new products and processes.
GlaxoSmithKline, the world’s second largest pharmaceutical maker, employs over 1,100 people at its 60-acre complex at Barnard Castle, County Durham, from where it supplies more than 40 products to 100 markets, including the US.
Other large international pharmaceutical companies in the North East include Sanofi-Aventis in Newcastle and Merck Sharp & Dohme, in Cramlington, Northumberland. Tees Valley is host to the world-leading biologics manufacturing business of Avecia Life Sciences, recently bought by Merck’s parent group in the US.
Innovative firms with a presence in the North East include Millipore UK in Consett, County Durham, and Cambridge Research Biochemicals in Billingham, Tees Valley.
SSL International has two purpose-built R&D centres at Peterlee, County Durham, while NPIL Pharmaceuticals UK in Morpeth, Northumberland, specialises in producing advanced drug ingredients.
Rapidly growing pharmaceuticals maker The Specials Laboratory in Prudhoe, Northumberland, has state-of-the-art facilities for preparing drugs, developed by other companies and research units, for clinic trials in hospitals.
Stem Cells Research
Some of the most advanced stem cell research in the world is being conducted in North East England.
Alongside this, an exciting range of commercial opportunities is emerging in the field of regenerative medicine and associated technological developments. This activity has its focus at the Centre of Excellence for Life Sciences (Cels).
Business incubator units and a variety of support services and networking facilities are available through Cels for businesses and specialists involved in stem cell and genetic R&D.
Investments in the manufacture of cell therapy products have attracted one of Korea’s leading biotechnology companies, RNL Bio, to the North East. The firm has established its European division at Newcastle University.
At Durham University a spin-out biotechnology company, Reinnervate, has been created to specialise in the development of technologies to facilitate cell growth.
Another company, NewGene, has been set up through a partnership between the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University. It is based at the International Centre for Life in Newcastle and offers genetic testing services.
The North East Stem Cell Institute is providing a joined-up approach to R&D and commercialisation through collaboration between businesses, the universities and the National Health Service.
Drug Discovery and Biomarkers
There is a huge range of R&D taking place within the North East into drug development and the creation of diagnostic systems and products for the healthcare market.
To facilitate the economic potential of work involving more than 1,200 researchers in the area’s universities, businesses, the NHS and research institutions, an important network, BioNEt, is managed by the Cels as part of its larger HealthConnect network.
While large pharmaceutical companies are engaged in R&D, there are innovative newer companies in the North East also involved in drug discovery.
One of those experiencing strong growth is e-Therapeutics, based in Newcastle. Among its projects are potential treatments for dementia, age-related sight degeneration and prostate cancer, in partnership with other companies.
Within the growing range of businesses in the North East working at the leading edge of drug development and the use of biological markers for diagnostic purposes are:
- BioTransformations, a spin-out from Newcastle University, created to commercialise the safe and efficient use of monoclonal antibodies in the treatment of cancers.
- Genesis Genomics, a spin-out from a Canadian company, which has located to Newcastle where it has been developing new treatments for skin cancer.
- Immunodiagnostics Systems, a high-growth firm based in Boldon, Tyne and Wear, which has developed diagnostic kits used in the detection and treatment of bone disorders and other diseases.
- Nonlinear Dynamics, in Newcastle, which has pioneered software systems that analyse protein structures in cells for the detection of diseases.
Ageing and Assistive Technology
North East England is focused on ageing and health (including Assistive Technology), stem cells and regenerative medicine, health Informatics, medical devices and diagnostics.
The Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle University already the largest in Europe, will be built upon to develop new research capacity and will address the issues of an ageing population, particularly the development of assistive technologies. It has the largest interdisciplinary research group in the field of ageing and age-related illnesses.
A Medtec cluster of companies in the North East provide medical devices and services to hospitals and other customers throughout the UK and worldwide.
Rocket Medical, for example, designs and makes over 1,900 products at its factory in Washington, Tyne and Wear. These are employed in a wide range of clinical areas, such as chest drainage systems used after surgery and foetal blood sampling kits for maternity wards.
Peacocks Medical Group in Newcastle has built a national reputation for its design and manufacture of devices that support or correct musculoskeletal deformities or other forms of physical disability.
Bison Bede, in Consett, County Durham, specialises in the design and manufacture of innovative types of chair lifts and bath lifts. It has provided lifting aids to more than 180,000 people worldwide.
In a similar product area Aquajoy Bathlifts, also in Consett, has become a UK and European market leader, winning awards for its export achievements.
And Tynetec, based in Blyth, Northumberland, specialises in the design and manufacture of alarm systems as well as telecare equipment, for monitoring disabled or physically vulnerable people, and telehealth machines for uses such as blood pressure checks.
An important source of new products is the Regional Medical Physics Department in the North East. This is the largest of its kind in the UK, and many of the devices and inventions created by its staff of around 300 are made available to companies for commercial development.
Healthcare & Life Sciences
Key Facts & Figures
- Healthcare and life sciences companies in North East England have a turnover of more than £8 billion a year.
- Newcastle University’s Institute of Human Genetics is one of Europe’s largest centres of its kind, conducting world-leading research in stem cells.
- The Centre of Excellence for Life Sciences (Cels) is the hub of the sector’s business development.
- The International Centre for Life in Newcastle is a purpose-built site for a number of key North East research institutions and is the UK’s first ‘biotechnology village’.
- North East England is a major global location for pharmaceutical companies and hosts a third of the UK’s manufacturing production.
- Within the North East the biopharmaceutical supply chain has an estimated combined turnover of more than £500 million.
- The Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle University has the largest interdisciplinary research group in the field of ageing and age-related illnesses.
- The HealthConnect network brings together professionals and organisations to share knowledge and collaborate on commercial opportunities.
- Researchers and companies with world-class expertise in protein science are supported by the North East Proteome Analysis Facility (NEPAF).
- The InSTeP project (Integrated Services Training and Products) helps small and medium-sized businesses and organisations in the development and delivery of products and services for the healthcare sector.
- Newcastle Science City is the focus for the building of a 100,000 square metre Science Central development to host research, teaching and business facilities.
- NetPark in Sedgefield, County Durham, is a high-tech business park for innovative health and life science companies.
Healthcare & Life Sciences
The Centre of Excellence for Life Sciences (Cels) is a bespoke hub providing unique business, marketing and development support for companies in healthcare and life sciences.
It forges innovative connections between high-level academic research and commercial markets. Cels manage a number of world-class facilities for both R&D and business growth across the region.
Life Knowledge Park is well advanced in creating a world-class genetic centre aimed at delivering fundamental improvements in human health.
This is achieved through basic and applied research, service development and interaction with industry with appropriate investment in the engagement of society and expansion of public knowledge and appreciation.
Newcastle Science Company Ltd works with its partners to position Newcastle as a premier location for science by building science networks across the region which encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, supporting the development of science- based businesses.
This is achieved through a number of work areas; supporting Science Networks, the Newcastle Innovation Machine, Science Business Creation, Science Infrastructure and Education and Community Engagement.
The NorthEast England Stem Cell Institute (NESCI) is a collaboration between Durham and Newcastle Universities, the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and other partners, including the Centre for Life in Newcastle.
Their primary aim is the development of new stem cell treatments and providing research tools for drug discovery. To do this, we have strong links with a range of academic, clinical, commercial and other partners. They have benefitted from our partners' support and we boast state of the art laboratories and specialist facilities.
Newcastle University has one of the largest Biomedical Science Schools in the country and works closely with three major hospitals.
Scientists and clinicians work together in research institutes with a collective aim to make ground breaking discoveries, to lead to the development of new medicines in the areas of:
- Ageing & Health
- Cell and Molecular Biosciences
- Cellular Medicine
- Health and Society
- Human Genetics
- Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine
Central Scientific Services support the research of all the institutes and links are maintained with the clinical specialities, maintaining access to stable and well characterised patient cohorts.
HealthConnect is a network for professionals and organisations working in the healthcare and life sciences sector.
A network that provides a range of premier support activities and services which are all designed to drive best practice and help our members grow and succeed.
HealthConnect members are active in assistive technology, health informatics, medical devices, biotechnology and life sciences, health and social care, health and well being as well as their associated supply chains.
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