Launched by world leading fertility group Genea earlier this year, Genea Biomedx is developing practical, accessible, precise technology to improve IVF lab outcomes.
The company will move into its new building later this year and plans to recruit around 30 new staff for the facility at Discovery Park in Sandwich, which will take the total number of people employed on the site to over 1,400.
Discovery Park is in discussions with three other science focused organisations who between them would bring a further 300 jobs to the site.
Speaking of the announcement Discovery Park Chairman Trevor Cartner said: “We have been negotiating with Genea Biomedx for some time and have fought hard to secure the tenancy in the face of stiff competition from other science parks in the UK. We are naturally delighted to be able to welcome the team and welcome the research jobs that will be created.
“We are really building momentum now but it’s crucial that we keep moving forward if we are to achieve our long term goals for the site. We have enjoyed tremendous support from Dover District and Kent County Councils as well from other stakeholders including Locate in Kent, Sandwich Town Council, Sandwich Chamber of Commerce and our neighbours in Thanet.
“We have been made to feel hugely welcome in Sandwich and we are committed to creating a world class science community surrounded by a new mixed use development.”
Genea Biomedx Commercial Director Kim Giliam said establishing a presence at Discovery Park was a natural fit for the Australian company.
“When it became obvious Genea Biomedx needed a home in the Northern Hemisphere, we developed a list of must haves including proximity to the Channel crossing and world class facilities. Discovery Park ticked all of our boxes and more,” Mr Giliam said.
Paul Wookey, Chief Executive of Locate in Kent said: “We are delighted that we were able to help persuade Genea that the facilities and environment at Discovery Park were the right choice for their business over Oxford, Cambridge and other facilities worldwide.
“We were also able to introduce them to Kent suppliers such as accountants, lawyers as well as other local companies who have been engaged by the company, showing the indirect as well as direct impact made by investments like this.
“In addition we were happy to help with the personal aspects of relocating the owners’ family – visas, rental property, schooling and so on, which can be daunting for a company moving from overseas.”
In addition to Genea Biomedx, Discovery Park has also recently welcomed two other science-focused tenants to Discovery Park, Osmovian and AlgaeCytes.
Osmovian, a specialist outsourcing provider and consultancy for the life sciences sector, moved its head office from Leeds to Discovery Park and plans to make the park the primary location for its operations as the company grows. The company was keen to be part of the growing life sciences hub at the Kent business park.
Mark Campbell, Managing Director, Osmovian, said: “The opportunities to work in the same location as so many other life science focused companies was a huge draw. The ability to network and work closely with other companies and offer our services is a great advantage to us.
“I am very impressed with the ambitions of Discovery Park Ltd, and its desire to make the site a world leading science park is certainly a draw for companies such as ours. Also the benefits of it being an enterprise zone are very attractive to a growing company.”
Currently employing five staff, the company’s future plans include the expansion of its services and to take on more staff at Discovery Park.
Mark continued: “We have plans to launch the Pharma Outsourcing Consortium in the very near future, specifically focused on the needs of small and emerging biopharmaceutical companies. This will provide members with networking opportunities with other companies in their position to share and gain knowledge, as well as tools and processes to increase their outsourcing effectiveness. In addition, it will engage with contract service providers on a collective basis and thus increase the overall leverage of individual member companies.
“With this move to Discovery Park, Osmovian gains an office identity that reflects our strong commitment to supporting early stage biopharmaceutical companies and accommodates our future growth plans.”
Boosting the scientific expertise on site is AlgaeCytes, a company focused on developing and commercialising algae derived bioactive ingredients, in particular Omega 3 oils and proteins, for the nutraceutical, cosmetics and pharmaceutical markets.
The company founders were originally based in Canterbury with their research and development operations based abroad, and the team regularly travelled to the Czech Republic to conduct R&D for the business. After reaching a critical stage where the company needed to scale up production, they decided to bring AlgaeCytes back to the UK. Both Oxford and Cambridge were considered as suitable locations and Discovery Park was highlighted as a potential site that was still in development. Following a brief spell at Kent Enterprise Hub, which the company quickly outgrew, Discovery Park was ready for business and the firm moved its entire offices to its state-of-the-art laboratories.
Naz Bashir, Chief Operating Officer, AlgaeCytes, said: “There were a number of factors which influenced our decision to move to Discovery Park.
“The quality of the lab space and buildings on site, both regional and national transport links, the quality of workforce and the excellent location were a big attraction. The team at Discovery Park were also fantastic and clearly shared our vision, as well as having a great vision of their own – to grow the park into a renowned site with a variety of science, clean technology and other businesses to become a real innovation site.”
AlgaeCytes originally heard about Discovery Park through local news stories and also from inward investment agency Locate in Kent, which is a big supporter of the Park.
Naz continued: “Although we did consider science parks in the north east and north west, when we looked at all aspects, Discovery Park was top of the list. We were also successful in securing funding through the Regional Growth Fund so the move to Sandwich quickly became a reality and we are now really taking off.”
The science firm, which employs ten people, is launching its first algae pilot plant where it will produce samples for new food and pharmaceutical clients, which forms the basis of a scaling up programme leading to commercial production in 2014/2015.
“We are very excited about the opening of the pilot plant and as part of our future development we are looking forward to supplying high quality products and to building on our vision to grow the company. Kent has a lot going for it and we would encourage other businesses to consider moving to Discovery Park,” added Naz.
Cllr Paul Watkins, Leader of Dover District Council, said: “We are very pleased to welcome another new company to Discovery Park, as the area continues to attract diverse businesses and employment opportunities. A range of partners continues to work together to ensure Discovery Park provides an important boost for East Kent and beyond, and working with our partners, we continue to be involved with and supportive of the ongoing success of the Enterprise Zone.”
Since taking over in August 2012, Discovery Park Ltd has created almost 700 new jobs with a target of 1,000 by the end of the year.