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Don't think there's a thread for this, and with a bit of news, it's probably a good time to kick one off.

Medical park seeking US backers
Kirsten Chambers
Thursday 19 July 2012 09:29

A TRADE representative from Boston, Massachusetts is in Yorkshire this week to investigate investment potential for US life sciences firms at the advanced medical park planned for Leeds.

Leeds City Council wants to create a campus for innovative healthcare businesses and university academics and hopes to build closer relationships with American companies eyeing opportunities in Europe.

Kirsten Chambers heads UK Trade and Investment in Boston, which is home to the second largest cluster of biotech and pharmaceutical companies in the US.

She is meeting with key figures behind the Leeds scheme.

Ms Chambers is visiting Surgical Innovations, the medical device designer and manufacturer which hopes to be an anchor tenant at the park, and will learn about ground-breaking medical research taking place at Leeds University.

She will meet with the heads of Medipex, the region’s NHS innovation hub, and Medilink, which supports health technology businesses in Yorkshire.

And she will also promote trade opportunities for Yorkshire businesses in Boston.

Ms Chambers said: “We are identifying where Leeds can play a role in Boston and where Boston companies can come and plug an innovation gap that may exist here.”

It is hoped that US companies will be able to share their valuable expertise in taking university research and fully exploiting its commercial potential.

Ms Chambers said Boston has a “special sauce” with Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology providing the right university courses, venture capitalist and angel investors providing the necessary backing, and managerial talent from mature life sciences companies who are willing and able to help nurture university spin-outs.

“These are the sorts of things we are looking to share in the Leeds area and help the cluster grow,” she added.

It is understood that the council has chosen Logic Leeds, a 100-acre site close to Junction 45 of the M1, as the favoured location for the advanced medical park. It is within the Aire Valley Leeds Enterprise Zone.

Tom Riordan, the council’s chief executive, revealed last month that the local authority is helping two companies with applications to the Government’s regional growth fund.

It is thought that the availability of public funds would encourage them to invest in the park, which would need between £5m-£10m to get off the ground. Surgical Innovations has already secured around £7m from the regional growth fund.

The money has been earmarked for job creation, apprenticeships, training and manufacturing infrastructure.

Mr Riordan wants the campus to emulate the success of Yorkshire Forward’s Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham, but have greater appeal to SMEs.

The city has a concentration of successful, but relatively small, healthcare companies.

Lurene Joseph, the new chief executive of Marketing Leeds, which is hosting the two-day trade visit, said the fast-growing sector represents a significant economic opportunity for Leeds.

She added: “We want the Leeds city region to be the UK’s leading centre for innovation in this sector and the main entry point for American companies looking to develop a presence in European markets.

“To do that, we need to nurture and grow the commercial and academic relationships that exist with the US.”

The UKTI, the Government’s trade organisation, is taking UK companies to Boston in October to attend Advamed, the world’s leading medical technologies conference.
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