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Chief Executive of Hertfordshire LEP joins our 'Science Cities' forum


Above: the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGTC) and GSK biosciences campus at Gunnels Wood, Stevenage


Our 'Science Cities' Cambridge event at Newnham College in February will feature a contribution from the Chief Executive of Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Neil Hayes. He has overseen the development of the LEP from its inception. Prior to joining the LEP, Neil was Head of the Economic Development Unit at Hertfordshire County Council. In his role as Head of Partnerships at the East of England Development Agency, Neil was responsible for local economic development partnerships across the region.


The LEP's current projects and priorities include the development of Hertfordshire Innovation Quarter (Herts IQ) across sites in Watford, Hemel Hempstead and Harpenden, as well as the expansion of Elstree Studios (where Netflix's The Crown has been produced), and a new Cell and Gene Therapy Integration Lab at CGTC Stevenage to support training for manufacturing in life sciences.


Herts IQ is attracting a cluster of clean tech, smart construction and agri-tech companies to the county, harnessing the world-class industry and research expertise of building science specialists BRE Group, agricultural pioneers Rothamsted Research, and the University of Hertfordshire. This involves the development 3 million square feet of new commercial space, 30 minutes from London.


Herts IQ is an enterprise zone and was developed by a partnership team led by Hertfordshire LEP, together with Hertfordshire County Council, St Albans City and District Council, Dacorum Borough Council, and innovation partners Rothamsted Research, BRE and the University of Hertfordshire. Herts IQ has sites in Maylands Business Park and Hemel Hempstead, along with innovation/start-up space on campus at BRE in Watford and Rothamsted Research in Harpenden.


The LEP has also invested £3 million in supporting a new Cell and Gene Therapy Integration Laboratory at CGTC, exclusively dedicated to the provision of cell and gene therapy manufacturing training. Learners will be trained using state-of-the-art equipment capable of large-scale manufacture to meet the need for skilled workers to accelerate the scale-up of cell and gene therapy companies locally. The funding will allow CGT Catapult to equip the laboratory with the latest digital technologies including augmented reality, high-throughput manufacturing platforms and advanced analytics for the industrial manufacture of cell and gene therapies.


The cell and gene therapy cluster around Stevenage has recently been recognised as a High Potential Opportunity zone, set to attract overseas investment to the area to further strengthen the UK’s sectorial advantage. Hertfordshire LEP previously supported CGTC with a £2.9m investment as it expanded its Manufacturing Centre in Stevenage to facilitate the growth and delivery scale required to bring personalised medicines of the future to market.

The LEP invested £6m towards Elstree Studios’ plans to proceed with building two new soundstages and ancillary workshops, with construction commencing in May 2021 Elstree Studios has been awarded a Getting Building Fund grant from Hertfordshire LEP to build two new soundstages at on the site of the former Big Brother house. Once operational, the new soundstages will create at least 800 new jobs, plus apprenticeship opportunities for local school leavers and the unemployed. As part of the deal, £100,000 per year from the rental income received by the council will be invested locally into creative industries, including local media and creative enterprises and initiatives—equivalent to 30% of the profits over the project's life. The studios involvement with Netflix and the series The Crown has had a significant economic impact on the local area. Hertsmere Borough Council achieves £1.4m in annual revenue and around 400 additional personnel have been employed for The Crown, with spending in the local economy reaching £17,000 per day during television productions and £30,000 per day during film productions.

Hertfordshire LEP has invested £6m towards the project from its £16.8m allocation from Government's Getting Building Fund. The scheme is supported by a further £6m from studio owners Hertsmere Borough Council. Hertfordshire LEP previously provided a £1m Growing Places Fund loan to clear a backlot at Elstree Studios. The cleared backlot led to the studio successfully securing the contract for the £100m Netflix series The Crown.

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