GlaxoSmithKline has joined forces with the government, Wellcome Trust and the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) to establish a brand new biotechnology science park at the drug giant’s Stevenage base, which, according to its chief executive Andrew Witty, will “affirm the UK as a global hub for the life-sciences industry”.

An initial stream of £38 million is being poured into the creation of a new “world-leading hub for early-stage biotechnology companies” at the site, with GSK putting up the land, facilities and investment totalling £11 million, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills providing almost £11.7 million, the Technology Strategy Board £5 million, the Wellcome Trust nearly £6 million and the EEDA £4 million.

Far from being a ‘mere’ base for biotechnology groups to carry out their research, the project aims to bring together scientists from around the globe under a “pioneering” new operating model based on open-innovation and knowledge sharing, the idea being that removing shrouds of commercial secrecy and fostering an environment of collaboration will help fuel faster success.

Companies based at the park will have shared access to specialist skills, scientific equipment and expertise to stimulate innovation and speed up the discovery and development process, which, in parallel, will help to grow and strengthen the UK bioscience sector.

Commenting on the new park, Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said it “represents a huge investment in the future of Britain’s bioscience industry” and that it will be a “strong new platform” for the work of the Office for Life Sciences. “It will leverage our existing strengths as a world leader in the sector, helping it to grow and reinforcing our international competitiveness. And ultimately it will help us build towards a stronger UK economy coming out of the global downturn,” he added.

It is estimated that development of the science park - which will initially house around 25 companies - could generate up to 1,500 new jobs, and GSK reportedly plans on increasing capacity at the park fivefold in the next decade.

Richard Ellis, Chair of EEDA, said the move “strengthens the region’s position as a world leader in life sciences, it will create thousands of new jobs and enable us to compete on the global stage," and that it is a great example of how regional interventions can stimulate projects of national significance with a global outreach”.