Since 2010, start-ups have gained affordable and flexible access to multimillion-pound research equipment, on-site expertise and business support that would usually be out of reach for a small business. With options to either lease their own exclusive-use labs, or opt for access to low commitment multi-user labs available on a daily basis, it continues to be a fantastic and dynamic environment that enables businesses to minimise their costs and grow into strong sustainable businesses.
However, this has been just the start of a vibrant, successful and ever growing suite of business incubation programmes for small businesses at Daresbury Laboratory, which now includes collaborative incubation programmes with both the European Space Agency and CERN, alongside the addition of a new, state-of-the-art digital prototyping facility, which includes a brand new virtual and augmented reality workstation.
Delyth Edwards, Business Incubation Programmes Manager at STFC, said: “I’m thrilled to be celebrating 10 years of the invaluable role that the access to flexible laboratory space here at STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory is playing in the growth and success of early stage companies. Scientific breakthroughs and technologies developed by businesses continue to transform the world we live in, but for small high tech businesses, developing these kinds of innovative products and services can be an uphill struggle in difficult economic times and an increasingly global marketplace. We’ve had a fantastically successful 10 years, and it is our ambition that the campus will continue to develop and attract even more companies in the next decade, as they go on to develop innovative new products for the benefit of the UK and its people.”
One of these companies, NGPod Global, located within the equipped labs as the winner of a six month R&D and business support package. The company was developing a revolutionary new device designed to change the way that hospital patients requiring feeding tubes are treated. Two years on, the company is now operating its manufacturing R&D from its own bespoke laboratory here at Daresbury Laboratory, and is currently trialling its technology in three NHS hospitals, with a plan to launch commercially this year.
John Carrington, CEO at NGPod Global, said: “The opportunity for NGPOD Global to access the wealth of specialist skills, equipment and advice available here at Daresbury Laboratory has been fundamental to the development of our product. The facilities here, which would otherwise be out of reach financially to a small business, enabled us to develop our production processes and move on to the next technology readiness level for our business.
Located within the vibrant Sci-Tech Daresbury Campus, a nationally recognised centre and community of high-tech business and innovation, businesses incubated here gain unique access to the support, expertise and innovation opportunities offered by the wider campus. Here collaboration is key and a ‘home-for-life’ ethos makes it possible for, what may start as a one-man business using shared facilities, to scale up to a much larger business with its own facilities and equipment.
Furthermore, with more and more healthcare businesses collaborating with the wider scientific community here on site, this led to the launch of the UK’s first HealthTec cluster on the campus last year.
Perfectus Biomed, which joined Daresbury Laboratory in 2012, is now an award-winning, market leading GLP-compliant and UKAS accredited contract research organisation. Recently chosen by leading business experts as one of the ‘Top 20 North West most exciting companies to watch out for in 2020’, the company recently expanded its workspace into the new Techspace One building on the Sci-Tech Daresbury campus, creating purpose-built space for their growing cell culture and molecular services, after demand for its services doubled in the space of a year. Perfectus Biomed is a fantastic example of the calibre of world class health technology companies located on campus, as part the exciting new HealthTech Cluster, and of how the campus can be a home for life as a company grows from start-up to a flourishing, successful business.
Samantha Westgate, CEO at Perfectus Biomed said: “Locating our business at Daresbury Laboratory provided the essential facilities and support that Perfectus Biomed needed through the early stages of our growth. Flexible access to laboratory and office space allowed us to grow, while on-site business support provided us with contacts and knowledge to help us secure the investment required to develop the business further. Since then, a year of record growth meant that we were outgrowing our workspace and needed to think about the next step in our development. Moving into Techspace One meant that we could continue to expand our workspace without the need to relocate our business.”
Delyth Edwards added, “With our facilities, capabilities and expertise, we are perfectly placed to help businesses solve their high-tech innovation challenges and enhance their competitiveness. It’s fantastic to see businesses, such as NGPOD and Perfectus Biomed grow and go from strength to strength, as we continue to provide the correct environment for innovation and success.”
Further information about support for SMEs at Daresbury Laboratory and across STFC more generally, can be found at the STFC website.