A multi-million pound science park for businesses specialising in health and life sciences has been officially opened in Wiltshire today (21 September).

The Beech-Allen Building, a state-of the-art facility and the first phase of Porton Science Park, will support new jobs and businesses linked to the established centres of excellence in science and technology at the Porton Down Campus. These include world-leading expertise in health, biopharma, life sciences, defence and security technologies.

The building forms the gateway to a 10 hectare site which is being developed as a focus for innovation, entrepreneurship and high tech growth. Specialist services including dedicated business and venture management support, mentoring and advice will be delivered in partnership with stakeholder partners including the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and Public Health England (PHE) Porton.

Twelve companies have already taken up residence at the park including Ploughshare Innovations (the technology transfer office for the UK MOD) KalVista, Fluorogenics and Immunotec.

Investment for the £10m first phase has come from Wiltshire Council, the Local Growth Fund and the European Regional Development Fund. The package of funding was assembled by Wiltshire Council working closely with the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP).

The opening of Porton Science Park consolidates the position of south Wiltshire as a nationally important centre of excellence in specialist health, life science and defence and security sectors. The skills base at Porton Down is already being supplemented by new investment underway at Dstl linked to its ‘Project Helios’ programme. Investment plans and new projects around the Boscombe Down air base are being developed by QinetiQ and its partners. These will support growth in aerospace and related defence technologies complementary to the businesses at Porton Down.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook, OBE, Leader of Wiltshire Council officially opened the park alongside John Mortimer of SWLEP and Roz Beech-Allen, widow of Peter, previously a director at the Wessex Forum, who helped inspire the creation of the park.

Baroness Scott said:

Wiltshire Council set out to create a platform for science and technology innovation and to nurture new and growing companies in some of the most dynamic business sectors in the country. Together with our partners, we have made this happen. We are at the start of a fascinating venture which will bring high skilled jobs to the county and a real boost to Wiltshire’s economy.

James Kirby, CEO of Ploughshare Innovations said:

The new building is a state-of-the-art facility and we are looking forward to being at the heart of the science park, forging links with the other businesses here to help develop new technologies and grow prosperity for the region. Our move to Porton puts us closer to our main source of innovations, enabling us to maximise the MOD’s investment in core science and technology research.

John Mortimer, Chairman of the SWLEP said

Our area has a strong legacy in scientific research and development and the SWLEP aims to strengthen its growth and competitive edge. Life Sciences is a priority for the SWLEP and by investing in the Porton Science Park, we are supporting specialised development to generate new jobs and mark the area’s growth into a competitive cluster of science and research companies.

Gary Aitkenhead, Chief Executive of Dstl said:

Dstl is pleased to be working with Wiltshire Council on this key project. At Dstl, we have a strong track record of working with entrepreneurs to help protect our Armed Forces and the British public, and the new science park can only strengthen these relationships and help create a world-leading science and technology hub in South Wiltshire.

For the original article please visit the Wiltshire Council’s news page. 

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