Business boost for north-west biotechnology start-ups

Paul Vernon, Head of STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, Amy Farrington, Head of Business Incubation at STFC, and Massimo Noro, Business Development Director, STFC

An exciting new business programme designed to support biotechnology start-ups in the north-west has formally launched with its first opportunity for participants.

The new Biotech Business Incubation Centre (Bio BIC) is a collaboration between UK Research and Innovation’s:

Bio BIC will help small biotechnology businesses, emerging from leading bioscience research, turn their innovative technology concepts into market reality.

Located within STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, Bio BIC will ensure that biotechnology businesses, built on leading bioscience research, can bridge the gap between science and market and achieve their full commercial potential.

Outstanding support for start-ups

The innovative Bio BIC programme will provide an outstanding support package for start-ups, initially over a 5-year period.

Successful applicants will receive support up to the value of £90,000 in the form of:

  • up to £45,000 targeted research and development (R&D) funding
  • up to 100 hours access to R&D facilities and ongoing onsite technical advice
  • intellectual property protection support
  • unlimited business coaching provided by dedicated business experts
  • networking and introductions to investors, customers, sector stakeholders and next stage funders

North-west opportunity

BBSRC has invested around £110 million in north-west bioscience and biotechnology research, which includes the provision of funding to 8 higher education institutes across the region.

The Bio BIC initiative will accelerate the emergence and success of new companies from these research strengths. It will drive enterprise and enhancing links between the science and innovation communities in the north-west.

A recent study (PDF, 5.4MB) mapped UK biotechnology start-ups. The study identified that while most companies are concentrated in London and the south-east, the north-west is home to 670 biotechnology start-ups.

Tangible business benefits

Bio BIC builds upon STFC’s strong track record of managing support programmes and facilities for small businesses across its locations nationally, and particularly at STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory.

This includes the highly successful European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre (ESA BIC UK), through which STFC has supported more than 100 start-ups over the last decade.

Here, participating companies contribute on average £350,000 gross value added (GVA) each year to the UK economy. Business survival rate is more than 95% after 5 years, compared to the national average of 40%.

Cluster power

Sci-Tech Daresbury is in the Liverpool City Region. It is home to more than 150 high tech companies that benefit from access to cutting-edge technologies and expertise to develop and improve products and boost productivity.

The campus has a ‘home-for-life’ ethos. A growing number of rapidly expanding biotechnology firms, such as Croda and Holiferm, are adding momentum to the emergence of an exciting new biotech cluster within Sci-Tech Daresbury.

This sits alongside 3 well-established industrial clusters managed within the campus for the north-west, specifically dedicated to the health tech, space and digital sectors.

Real-world impact

Dr Karen Lewis, Executive Director for Capability and Innovation at BBSRC, said:

As the UK’s major public funder of bioscience research, BBSRC is committed to driving and accelerating advances in bioscience and biotechnology that have the potential to contribute new and novel bio-based solutions to some of the biggest problems facing society.

Coupled with STFC’s unparalleled expertise and success in business incubation, the new Bio BIC will create a dynamic and productive environment that enables the successful translation of bioscience research outcomes into real-world and commercial impacts.

This investment in the new Bio BIC represents an exciting opportunity to drive growth and prosperity to benefit the region, and the UK.

A catalyst for growth

Paul Vernon, Executive Director of Business and Innovation at STFC, and Head of STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, said:

The Bio BIC marks the start of exciting opportunity for pioneering biotech start-ups across the north-west.

STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory is the UK government’s national laboratory of the north and I’m really looking forward to working closely with BBSRC to help businesses innovate and turn their ideas and biotechnology applications into viable and successful businesses.

The Bio BIC could be the start of a catalyst for growth of the biotechnology sector in the region, ultimately benefitting our economy and society.

Creating jobs and prosperity

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:

The Liverpool City Region is lucky to be home to a thriving community of businesses that are constantly innovating and finding better ways of doing things.

We have an invaluable natural resource, our people, which combined with our asset base, can help put as at the forefront of UK science and innovation.

I want to take advantage of our strengths, and potential, and turn them into profitable businesses, creating better, greener jobs and bringing greater prosperity to local people.

We’re putting our money where our mouth is too, by investing 5% of our GVA in research and development over the next few years, nearly double the government’s national targets, to ensure our region is the fuel that powers the country’s innovation engine.

Programmes like Bio BIC are helping us to do just that.

Get involved

Further information about application and eligibility for the Bio BIC, and how it could benefit your business, is available on the Bio BIC website.

Top image:  From left to right: Paul Vernon, Head of STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, Amy Farrington, Head of Business Incubation at STFC, and Massimo Noro, Business Development Director, STFC. Credit: STFC

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