Posted on:
21st May, 2018

LEP helps put Hertfordshire "ahead of the game"

A £6m science partnership between businesses and academia has put ‘Hertfordshire ahead of the game,’ says Business Minister Richard Harrington.

LEP helps put Hertfordshire "ahead of the game"

Speaking at the launch of the Hertfordshire Science Partnership, Richard Harrington MP said: “Hertfordshire is ahead of the game because it is a partnership between businesses and academia. It puts them together and I think it has a brilliant future.”

Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership has invested nearly £4m Government and EU funding to support innovation by brokering a unique partnership between businesses and the University of Hertfordshire to help bring cutting-edge research and development to market.

The Partnership leverages the university's state-of-the-art science facilities and academic expertise to boost the dynamic pharmaceutical, life sciences and agri-technology sectors in the East of England.

Keith Thompson, CEO, Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, said Hertfordshire was right at the heart of what he hoped would be the birth of one of the biggest industrial clusters of cell and gene therapy. Stevenage is home to the world’s first cell and gene therapy manufacturing centre which was opened last month by Business Secretary Greg Clark and Science Minister Sam Gyimah.

And, Paul Clarke, Chief Technology Officer at online supermarket giant Ocado,which has its technology headquarters at Hatfield Business Park, said: “With everything that is happening with new technologies and robotics, it’s all about how we can get business close to cutting edge research that is going on in institutions such as this.”

Hertfordshire LEP invested £2.5m Growth Deal and £1.45m European Regional Development Funds into the programme with the University sourcing the remaining investment from industry.

Following on from the launch, Mr Harrington then outlined the key role Hertfordshire LEP will play in developing a Local Industrial Strategy for Hertfordshire at its Annual Conference.

The MP for Watford said: “We’re seeing the benefits in Hertfordshire. What’s happening here shows how it [the LEP] prioritises what is the basis for bringing more businesses into an area.”

Mark Bretton, Chair, Hertfordshire LEP, said: “There are a number of capabilities here in Hertfordshire that are not just local for the county or the UK but are global leading, such as defence with MBDA, space, Airbus; life sciences with the Catapult and Catalyst in Stevenage. We have Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, the home of Harry Potter, and fantastic research at Rothamsted and BRE. I could go on.

“The challenge we have set ourselves is not to be a dormitory of London but to build something here that will have a big impact on the UK economy.”

The Annual Conference kick-started the development of a Local Industrial Strategy for the county by building on the priorities set out in the LEP’s revised Strategic Economic Plan.  Overseeing this process is the Grand Challenge Commission led by former LEP Chair John Gourd and supported by local industrial champions for each of the Grand Challenge areas.

John Gourd said: “This is very much a call to arms, asking people to get involved, bring their networks, their knowledge and their expertise to help the LEP formulate its strategy.”

Over the next six to 12 months, the new commission will lead the Local Industrial Strategy process in Hertfordshire, under John Gourd’s chairmanship, alongside identified business leaders, innovators and academics.

The commission has already started to gather evidence on Hertfordshire’s capabilities under the four Grand Challenge areas identified in the Government’s White Paper. These are:

  • Artificial Intelligence and Big Data
    • Clean Energy
    • Shaping Future Mobility
    • Innovation for an Ageing Society

In a survey, delegates were asked what the opportunities and threats the Grand Challenges posed to their business. The majority of respondents said artificial intelligence and big data represented the biggest opportunity in terms of both skills and productivity levels, while not tackling our congested networks posed one of the biggest threats as it would limit access to wider talent pools in a tight labour market. 

More detailed discussions are now taking place with the University of Hertfordshire, business leaders and entrepreneurs to identify where Hertfordshire can contribute most to the Grand Challenge areas and help define national solutions.

Find out more about how we are developing a Local Industrial Strategy for Hertfordshire.