A new facility which is set to place the Tees Valley at the heart of the emerging bioscience sector will open its doors in the spring.
The National Horizons Centre (NHC) is a state-of the-art education, training and research facility run by Teesside University at its campus on Darlington’s Central Park.
Aligned to the needs of industry, the centre will deliver industry-informed programmes to address the growth challenges faced by the bioscience sector.
The National Horizons Centre will concentrate on developing the technical, innovation and management skills and knowledge needed for the sector to continue to grow and generate jobs and wealth in Tees Valley and the UK.
It is being established to support the bioscience sector, which includes biologics, biomedical sciences and industrial biotechnology. It will play a key part in driving STEM skills and economic growth in the Tees Valley, through industry-focused education and training and collaborative research and innovation. Applying digital technologies to delivery of training, products and processes will be an integral part of NHC provision.
The centre has been financially supported by the Local Growth Fund, via the Tees Valley Combined Authority, and the European Regional Development Fund. The Local Growth Fund contribution of £17.5m represents the single biggest investment by the fund in the Tees Valley.
When work started on the centre earlier this year, the minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth Jake Berry described it as a facility which will, “train our young people to become the scientists of the future and continue to drive forward the Tees Valley as a leader in research, science and innovation in the UK and the world.”
Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen added: “The new economy will be built on biologics and digital – key sectors we need to support.
This massive £17.5m commitment is testament to the importance we have placed on securing jobs for the future.
“Helping Teesside University to achieve academic excellence is a major strand of my wider education and training plans. I look forward to continuing to work with the university and its partners as they deliver the high-quality skills training needed to build a Tees Valley fit for the future.”
The new centre will form a natural synergy with other buildings at Central Park, including the university’s Centre for Professional and Executive Development, the Centre for Process Innovation’s (CPI) National Biologics Manufacturing Centre, and Darlington College.
It will house academics and business development staff from Teesside University, working in partnership with regional, national and international industry partners to provide specialist education and training for the current and future workforce, and to promote industry-focused innovation and research.
“We’re delighted that the NHC will be located in the Tees Valley,” said Steve Bagshaw, chief executive of Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies. “As one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical contract development and manufacturing organisations, the development and training of our people is central to all that we do.
“The NHC on our doorstep will allow us to access best-in-class training and development opportunities for our staff, and for potential recruits to also accumulate the skills and knowhow needed to be successful in our day-to-day business.”
The centre will work closely with supply chain companies, digital businesses and academics to develop creative digital solutions to industry challenges.
Its business offer will include provision of graduate skills in big data, virtual reality and visualisation technology, improving manufacturing efficiency, product quality and training services using ICT solutions, and an open innovation space for project development using data analytics, modelling and simulation, visualisation and process improvement and control.
Facilities at the NHC include teaching, learning and collaborative space, together with hi-tech laboratories and a state-of-theart computing suite. The investment is part of Teesside University’s ambitious campus masterplan, which will see £300m spent over the next 10 years in transforming its estate to continue to provide an outstanding student and learning experience.
Vice-chancellor of Teesside University, Professor Paul Croney, said: “The National Horizons Centre is the result of significant work with industry and our partners, to identify how best the bioscience sector can reach its full potential through provision of the right education, training and collaborative innovation.
“A key priority of Teesside University is to help drive the knowledge economy, by growing the high-level skills base, building partnerships with industry and the professions, and creating graduates with the knowledge, aptitude and mindset to add real value to business.
“Our investment in the National Horizons Centre is an example of this in action. It will play a vital role, providing first-class facilities and programmes to grow knowledge and research in sectors that are set to transform the UK economy.”
More than just a building, the National Horizons Centre will be part of a national research, innovation and skills eco-system.
It will be the fulcrum of ideas, strategies, foresight and collaboration that will combine to have a profound effect on the bioeconomy by training and supplying the people who will be building it for generations to come.
For more information visit tees.ac.uk/nhc
Helping boost the bioeconomy
Teesside University is taking part in a £5m project to develop the bioeconomy across the Tees Valley, Yorkshire and the Humber region.
The THYME project will build on the existing expertise and innovation in the region in a new collaboration between the universities of Teesside, York and Hull.
The bioeconomy uses renewable, biological resources such as plants and wastes to create the greener products of the future – reducing our reliance on fossil resources and minimising waste.
In partnership with regional industry, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and the wider community, the THYME project (Teesside, Hull and York – Mobilising Bioeconomy Knowledge Exchange) has three key themes:
• Transform: Produce high-value products from bio-based wastes and by-products
• Convert: Re-purpose industrial sites for bio-based manufacturing
• Grow: Increase productivity by reducing waste and energy use, adding value to by-products and developing better products using industrial biotechnology.
Laura Woods, director of academic enterprise at Teesside University’s business hub, said: “The collaboration with other universities to develop this hugely important sector provides a strong innovation platform for the National Horizons Centre, and will deliver vital skills and knowledge to help grow the regional and national economy.”
The bioeconomy is estimated to be worth £220bn GVA in the UK alone, and the government’s industrial strategy is setting ambitious targets to double its size by 2030.
The THYME project is part of a multimillion investment package to drive university commercialisation across the country through Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund (CCF).