Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst gains £3m in funding


One tenant has also secured further funding, while another has extended its research collaborations

Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC), the UK’s first open innovation bioscience campus, has secured funding of £3m for the second phase of its expansion as part of recent government funding to Hertfordshire.

Other positive news for the SBC is that one of its tenants, gene editing company CRISPR Therapeutics, raised US$25m in a Series A round in April, while incoming tenant MRC Technology has extended its open innovation collaboration with AstraZeneca.

The £3m award forms part of the Government's Growth Deal with the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), announced earlier this month. Overall, the county has secured more than £200m by 2020/21 for investment in infrastructure, business and skills.

Switzerland-headquartered CRISPR Therapeutics, whose Series A funding is from Versant Ventures, is focused on the development of CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology for the development of new approaches to genetic diseases. The enzyme Cas-9 can be programmed to cut DNA at specific sites. The company was assisted by UK Trade and Industry (UKTI) and the UKTI Life Sciences Investment Organisation in the selection of a UK base.

With the drug discovery activities of life sciences technology transfer company MRC Technology moving to the campus in mid-2015, planning and development is well underway. The company has not only extended its collaboration with AstraZeneca, but will also take part in the £3m UK Dementia Consortium, and has successfully humanised an antibody with potential in the treatment of neurodegenerative disease.

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Martino Picardo, CEO of Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, said: 'With its focus on a cutting-edge new technology, we are delighted to welcome CRISPR Therapeutics to the campus. Combined with incoming tenant MRC Technology and recent joiners like Ossianix, Tokyo Electron and University College London, it highlights the calibre of the life sciences ecosystem we are developing here.'