Innovation

Stevenage is the UK’s first new town, a pioneering location for drug discovery and space science and with innovation at its core:

  • It supports a highly enterprising and innovative dynamic local economy, with a number of high value world class businesses supporting a global economy.  
  • Stevenage’s business environment supports a hotbed for enterprise and innovation activities.
  • It supports world renowned research centres and state of the art scientific facilities, alongside specialist business support, including; mentoring  and high quality business support.
  • Stevenage continues to receive public and private sector investment to further support it’s enterprising and innovation assets.
  • Businesses in the area also benefit from specialised networks, high quality attractive accommodation and access to funding to support their entrepreneurial journey.
  • This has resulted in Stevenage increasing productivity levels locally and nationally and supporting wider sectoral growth ambitions in the UK, Europe and across the globe.  
  • Stevenage delivers a world class robust and diverse business location for its global and European headquartered businesses.
  • Businesses located in the area have key strengths in science and technology sectors and are at the cutting-edge of scientific discovery and application. 
  • Its business community supports world class expertise in the high tech knowledge sectors including; aerospace, space science and satellites, defence, electronics, ICT and Pharmaceutical Research and Development.
  • Stevenage  businesses are amongst the most innovative and entrepreneurial around the world.
  • It has an impressive portfolio of global giants including; Airbus Defence and Space, MBDA, Cobham Advanced Composites, Fujitsu and GlaxoSmithKline.
  • Stevenage is located within the golden triangle and the academic centres of London, Cambridge and Oxford. It is home to GSK’s global R&D Centre and Stevenage Biosciences Catalyst “open innovation” Incubator and Accelerator facility.
  • Stevenage is home to world leading academic and clinical institutions, biotech start-ups, mature business clusters and an increasing public, private and academic sector collaboration.

 

Stevenage supports the UK’s largest Cell and Gene Therapy cluster and is in the top 3 globally.  

Stevenage has a considerable high number of registered businesses per population, with 0.62% of the population running their own business.

Stevenage saw a staggering 26.7% rise in new businesses between 2018 and 2019. Across the UK, the increase was only 5.4%. ONS 2019

  • Stevenage also has a superlative success rate for start-up businesses who survive beyond 5 years.
  • Stevenage’s five-year survival rate for business start-ups is currently 45.54%, whereas the UK average is 42.5%.
  • Start-up businesses in Stevenage continue to perform above the UK average for survival rates for Years 1 to 4 also, with Year 1 survival rates for start-ups currently at 94.1% compared to 92.2% for the UK. ONS 2019

 

Tech Nation Report 2018 recognises Stevenage as a tech hotspot for high growth digital tech companies, supporting employment creation, whilst creating a number of opportunities for would be investors to support the growth of the local economy and the wider UK economy.

The Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst is the UK’s first open innovation biosciences campus.

  • It is an entrepreneurial hub and a leading location for companies to develop and commercialise cutting edge therapeutics. 
  • Stevenage is part of a vibrant ecosystem based on interaction and collaboration created to bring academia, biotech and pharma companies together to drive advances in healthcare research more effectively, pioneering a new approach to early stage biotech, pharma and medtech developments.
  • It provides small biotech and life sciences companies and start-ups with access to the expertise, networks, finance and specialist scientific facilities, traditionally associated with multinational pharmaceutical companies.
  • The Catalyst is currently home to 40+ companies, which have attracted over £2bn+ in funding.  
  • Stevenage is based at the heart of Europe’s largest cluster of cell and gene therapy companies.
  • The Stevenage Campus is home to GSK, the Cell and Gene Therapy Manufacturing Catapult, LifeArc and Cytiva alongside a growing cluster of world class start-up companies. 

Stevenage is home to one of GSK’s two global R&D hubs.

  • Stevenage is a key location for GSK, a world leading research-based pharmaceutical company, employing world-class scientists and driving cutting-edge innovations.
  • GSK delivers one of world’s most innovative, best performing and trusted healthcare products and has a broad portfolio of innovative and established medicines to support a rapidly changing healthcare environment.
  • GSK continue to focus on developing new medicines in respiratory and HIV/infectious diseases, oncology and immuno-inflammation.
  • The Stevenage site is key to supporting the Research and development process in these areas.
  • GSK deliver over two million vaccine doses per day to people living in over 160 countries.
  • Its vaccines have been helping to protect people from serious disease for over 100 years and it has been instrumental in supporting the Covid-19 vaccine development.

GSK is set to transform land within its existing 92-acre Research & Development site in Stevenage into one of Europe’s largest ‘clusters’ for biotechnology and other early-stage life science companies.

The investment will potentially unlock £400m from a private sector developer to build a new campus, creating up to 5000 highly skilled jobs.

This will result in further private and public sector investment into the area, to support activities within the sector.

Stevenage is home to Galvani Bioelectronics, a partnership between GlaxoSmithKline and  Verily, the life sciences arm of Alphabet, Google’s parent company to support future bioelectronics medicine.

Galvani Bioelectronics is headquartered at GlaxoSmithKline’s global R&D centre in Stevenage and will support a number of scientists, engineers and clinicians.

Stevenage is home to Airbus Defence and Space, a world leader in aerospace and defence and leading supplier of satellites, launchers and space services.

It is recognised as a global centre of Excellence for spacecraft design and manufacturing, placing Stevenage in the global arena for the Space industry.

Airbus Defence and Space is the largest space company in Europe and part of a £14.8 billion UK Space Sector.

The Stevenage site contributes to building 25% of the world’s telecommunication satellites, supporting everyday connectivity.

The Airbus Defence and Space site at Stevenage has been instrumental for the design, development and manufacture of Telecommunication, Scientific, Earth Observation and Meteorology Satellites, Planetary Surface Robotics, spacecraft structures, propulsion systems, mechanisms and antennas, delivering global solutions in climate change monitoring and communications.  

The Stevenage site provides the space industry with some of the best equipped and state of the art development, assembly, test and production facilities.

Stevenage is home to Airbus Defence and Space’s 2017 Solar Orbiter Satellite research and development programmes. Solar Obiter provides stunning imagery of the sun and is the closest camera ever sent to the sun, as well as the first spacecraft to orbit the sun.

Stevenage is also the site of The European Space Agency’s Lisa Pathfinder mission to prove the technology to discover gravitational waves which tests Einstein’s theory to understand the Big Bang. 

The ESA’s wind sensing satellite Aeolus, built in Stevenage was the first earth observation satellite to measure and monitor winds on a global scale. This satellite was instrumental during the COVID crisis in monitoring wind measurements for metrological organisations, as weather data is usually collected in flight by aircraft.

The Stevenage site has also been instrumental in supporting Airbus, as lead for the Galileo programme, the global satellite navigation systems (GPS) which supports a number of sectors and emerging new technologies.

Airbus Space and Defence’s site in Stevenage also supported the assembly of the European Space Agency/European Union Sentinel-5P satellite, which monitors the entire planet’s daily air pollution levels. This vital environmental data allows more accurate air quality forecasts.

Stevenage is home to Airbus Defence and Space European Space Agency’s ExoMars Rover mission, Europe’s first interplanetary rover to another planet. The ExoMars Rover, Rosalind Franklin was also designed and built at Airbus in Stevenage. Its autonomous navigation capabilities will enable quick movements when its lands on the Red Planet.

Stevenage is home to MBDA’s R&D and design arm and a significant contributor to the knowledge economy of Stevenage, Hertfordshire and the UK.

MBDA are recognised as a global leader in the defence and manufacture of missiles and missile systems.

MBDA are number one in Europe for designing and producing missiles and missile systems to meet the current and future needs of the armed forces, air, sea and land.

MBDA has successfully been awarded a number of contracts to boost the UK’s defence industry and supports a wide array of jobs across the country.

Stevenage is also home to VIAVI (NASDAQ: VIAV) a global provider of network test, monitoring and assurance solutions to communications service providers.

VIAVI is a leader in high performance thin film optical coatings and providing a number of solutions to anti-counterfeiting, consumer electronics, automotive, defence and instrumentation markets.

VIAVI support pioneering technology in fibre optic testing and measurement to deliver fibre-intensive 5G networks and are a major test bed for the mobile industry.

Stevenage is home to Astute Electronics, a global electronics components distribution company.

Astute Electronics’ innovations have been recognised and have been awarded for their ACAP software and were the first company in the UK and US to receive accreditation for the AS6081, for the distribution of Electrical, Electronic and Electromechanical Parts for the Aerospace Industry.

The institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) have their HQ in Stevenage and work to “inspire, inform and influence the global engineering and technology to engineer a better world.”

  • The IET origins can be traced back to 1854 and it is made up from over forty predecessor organisations.
  • It initially grew with the growth of electrical activity between 1895 and 1914.
  • As a membership organisation with over 150,000 engineers they work to champion engineering and inspire new technology innovation.
  • The IET also work to help address the UK’s engineering skills shortages and support a number of skills programmes to inspire future generations of engineers and technicians. This includes their outreach programme to young people aged 4-19 including the IET Faraday Challenge Days and a number of First LEGO League programmes to develop STEM skills.

1st Enterprise Hub in the East of England “inspiring entrepreneurs to realise their ambitions and where entrepreneurial spirit is truly valued and celebrated”

  • The btc, as the first Enterprise Hub in the East of England provides an aspirational asset for Stevenage businesses to start their own business, grow and employ local people.

  • It “fosters a culture of entrepreneurship, supporting an enterprising and innovative economy, providing a dynamic and supportive environment to encourage early stage, high growth start-ups and ambitious scale up businesses to accelerate growth and succeed through flexible and tailored business support, guidance, training and strong business networks, enhancing the local and regional economy and contributing to high value job creation, making Stevenage the best place to start and grow a business.”

  • The btc in Stevenage is a well-established enterprise and innovation centre, providing high quality business support services in partnership with regional agencies and universities alongside superb accommodation.
  • The btc has developed an excellent reputation for providing quality business accommodation, including an incubator with incubation support services and expert specialised business support services.
  • It has attracted a diverse array of new businesses to Stevenage, complementing and supporting Stevenage’s World class economy.
  • The btc is instrumental in supporting the supply chain of local businesses to future proof the local and regional economy.
  • The centre is key in supporting Stevenage’s position as one of the top 3 locations for start-up and business survival status by supporting businesses with specialised expert business advice and business support services.

Stevenage Biosciences Catalyst provides a supportive environment for biotech start-ups to grow their businesses with access to mentoring, finance and specialist scientific facilities. As part of ambitions to support fledgling start-ups, it recently launched the Lab Hotel, offering start-up office and lab space, business support and specialist facilities to support the translation of early stage research into commercialisation of innovative new medicines.  The Catalyst has also developed the DATA Accelerator to support data focused biotech start-ups with skills required to bring new drugs and therapies to the market rapidly.

The University of Hertfordshire supports crucial infrastructure for innovation and commercialisation.

Its Innovation Centre and an active Hertfordshire Science Partnership with Hertfordshire LEP, Stevenage Biosciences Catalyst and CBRE Rothamsted provide unique opportunities for local businesses. 

The University of Hertfordshire is one of twenty universities in the UK with University Enterprise Zone (UEZ) status and provides highly specialist support, developed to reflect local strengths and opportunities and address skills gaps in key strategic sectors.

The University of  Hertfordshire has over 30,000 students and has world class research specialisms, notably in advanced engineering, gaming and software.

NMI Safety systems Ltd, a global business and a lead supplier of multi-functional systems for transport vehicles, supporting solutions for ambulances, buses and coaches were winner of the Innovation Technology Award for ‘Magic for seats’ wheelchair securement systems”.

Plasticell develop methods for the commercialisation of stem cell research and regenerative medicine and develops cell therapies to treat indications, including many cancers.

Plasticell were awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation in recognition of their contribution to the advancement of regenerative medicine, cell and gene therapy as well as other areas of biomedical research.

iTrinegy specialise in a computer network emulator solutions that realistically mimics real-world network environments.

iTrinegy were awarded The Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade 2021 in recognition of a great technology company.

Stevenage boasts a number of businesses recognised for supporting enterprising and innovative activities and have received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise and Innovation in recognition of this.

Stevenage has secured over £25,764,918.62 of UK innovation funding in recognition of the innovative nature of companies locally.

This has supported 38 companies, with over 123 projects.

  • Healthcare £12m+
  • Aerospace £2m+
  • High Value manufacturing £687K+
  • Agri-tech £454K+
  • Built environment £72K


Businesses at Stevenage Biosciences Catalyst have secured over £9m for 43 project supporting 11 companies.

Herts LEP has supported Stevenage Biosciences Catalyst with £12m from the Local Growth Fund to develop essential infrastructure to develop essential infrastructure to support scientific research.

This includes support with the Spark Building to provide interim lab and office space.  

Key Innovation Time

1946

Stevenage 1st UK New Town

1948

World famous Vincent Motorcycles, built the world’s first superbike and fastest motorcycle in 1948 with the Vincent Black Shadow breaking the 150mph barrier

1986

Business Technology Centre 1st East of England Hub

2000

GlaxoSmithKline is formed by the merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKlineBeecham

2005

Esprit Digital installed the World’s First digital escalator at Totenham Court Road Station on London underground

2007

Esprit Digital developed the World’s First double sized large format portrait advertising kiosks including touch screens and wayfinding

2007

Esprit Digital developed the World’s first large format digital bus shelter for ClearChannel

2008

NMI Safety Systems Ltd wins Queens Award For Enterprise: Innovation Technology Award for ‘Magic for seats’ wheelchair securement systems

2009

Esprit Digital developed the World’s first 4 Screen digital lifts at Heathrow Airport for JCDecaux

2012

Stevenage Biosciences Catalyst UK’s 1st Open Innovation Campus. The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult is established, helping to grow the UK into the largest advanced therapy cluster in Europe

2021

iTrinegy awarded The Queen’s Award for Enterprise in recognition of a great technology company.

2015

Astute Electronics Ltd - First company in the UK and US to receive accreditation for the AS6081, for the distribution of Electrical, Electronic and Electromechanical Parts for the Aerospace Industry

2016

Airbus Defence and Space Lisa Pathfinder test technology for detection of gravitational waves launched

2016

Plasticell Ltd awarded Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation in recognition of their contribution to the advancement of regenerative medicine, cell and gene therapy, as well as other areas of biomedical research.

2016

Tim Peake drives Mars Rover at Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage live after from the International Space Station

2017

2017 Airbus Defence and Space -built pollution monitoring satellite Sentinel-5 Precursor launch

2017

Airbus Defence and Space wind sensing spacecraft Aeolus launch

2018

Airbus Defence and Space built ExoMars Rover

2020

Airbus Defence and Space Solar Obiter first spacecraft to orbit the sun launched

2021

Airbus Defence and Space Biomass forest measuring satellite production passes key milestone in deployment of Large Deployable Reflector to supply vital data from world’s forests

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