The arrival of TusPark, which is investing £200million into Cambridge Science Park, was celebrated at a reception attended by a delegation of business leaders.
The event included a topping-out ceremony for the park’s first Bio-Innovation Centre – a space where early stage biotechs will be incubated and scaled up.
Next door to it is another huge monument to TusPark’s investment – the spacious new headquarters of leading games company Frontier Developments, which was completed in April and officially opened last Friday.
TusPark Cambridge, as it will be known, is also building a 61,000 sq ft research and development centre next door to the Bio-Innovation Centre.
Both of these are due to open next spring and there are proposals, yet to go through the planning process, for a fourth building.
Unveiled during Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to China in February, it represents a huge vote of confidence in Cambridge from TusPark, the Science Park arm of Beijing’s Tsinghua University, which is said to be the world’s largest innovation network.
Sir Gregory Winter, master of Trinity College, which owns Cambridge Science Park, said: “It is a testament to the hard work, determination and perseverance of the many people involved both in Cambridge and in Beijing that in less than two years we’ve progressed so far.”
For biotech pioneer Sir Greg, it represents the next chapter in the Science Park’s illustrious history.
“Since it was established in 1970, Cambridge Science Park has played a pivotal role within the Cambridge Phenomenon – the transformation of Cambridge from a market town with a world-class university to one of the leading technology hotspots of the world.
“Now in its 48th year and with a new cycle of investment under way, the park is undergoing an exciting phase of renewal.”
Home to more than 100 businesses, many of which are working on “life-changing, life-saving” technologies, the park’s renewal began a year ago with the building of The Bradfield Centre, the collaborative workspace for early stage deep tech companies.
Already housing to one Chinese company, Sir Greg revealed that another – e-commerce company JD.com – plans to move in later this year, establishing an artificial intelligence R&D space.
“Tus’s investment in property on Cambridge Science Park is both welcome and timely,” he said.
With senior leaders from Tus listening on, Sir Greg praised the “pace and enthusiasm” with which the small TusPark Cambridge team, led by the effervescent Kevin Lin, had “engaged not just Cambridge Science Park but the wider Cambridge community”.
Further evidence of TusPark’s intentions to foster deep links with Cambridge’s hugely successful cluster has come in the form of investment into two companies – Babraham Research Campus-based novel cancer therapeutics company Biosceptre and medtech pioneer Diagnostics for the Real World, of Chesterford Research Park.
“Tus’s willingness to help Cambridge companies access the Chinese market, whether it’s to find partners, investors or manufacturers, adds enormous value to companies in this region,” said Sir Greg.
“It’s also evident that Tus shares our mission to help innovative companies grow successful businesses, create jobs and drive economic development, resulting in greater prosperity for all, particularly companies in the fields of healthcare, deep technology and environmental technology: companies that are passionate about finding solutions to the world’s unmet needs.”
Biosceptre is one of those innovative companies.
Founded in 2003 in Australia, the biotech’s is developing next-generation cancer therapeutics utilising its proprietary target.
CEO Gavin Currie said the company raised about £8.5million, including £5million from TusPark, which is funding a phase I clinical trial for a vaccine product.
“Our first patient will be recruited in the first couple of weeks in August,” he said.
For the company, trust was a big issue when moving into the Chinese market – but Gavin said in TusPark the company had found the ideal partner.
“Probably the best thing about finding TusPark was that they had that strong innovation network,” he added. “Within China it has such a strong reputation.
“What we’ve seen as a company our profile lifted significantly.
“The level of approaches we’ve had has been considerable.”
Jiwu Wang, chairman of Tus- Holdings, said the company was focused on “cluster innovation” and, with more than 300 science parks and incubators around the world, was the biggest innovation network in the world.
“We can draw inspiration from each other,” he said, speaking in Mandarin. “I would love to see China and the UK and Europe closely collaborate with each other, especially in innovation.
“With TusPark Cambridge, we hope we can.
“I personally expect a lot of achievement through our collaboration and we can set an example to the world.”
David Sheppard, head of China, Europe, Middle East and Africa, at the Department for International Trade (DIT), said: “The investment that we’re celebrating is exactly the sort of investment that the UK government wants to attract. It will provide space for UK life sciences companies to grow and develop, which is a key priority for the UK government, as demonstrated in the life sciences industrial strategy and sector deals, which were announced last year.
“There’s a really big opportunity for China and the United Kingdom in the life sciences sector.
“The Chinese government has made providing world leading healthcare as a high priority for it and the UK has a lot of experience and technology in that area and we hope to collaborate with China.”
Praising the work of Dr Du Jiansheng, a specialist for life sciences at the DIT who assisted in the deal, he added: “It really is an excellent example of the supporting services that the Department for International Trade can provide both to UK companies and to investors.”
Ma Hui, minister at the Chinese Embassy, said the agreement “marks a new level of co-operation” and was blueprint for others.
“I hope it will be a high-level platform for incubation,” he added.
Prof Yan Wang, vice-chairman of the Tsinghua University Council, said: “We would like to serve as a bridge for China and the UK for experts to communicate with each other. This is one of our missions.”
Julie Spence, Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, said: “The impact of the exciting joint venture which you’ve heard about extends far beyond the banks of Cambridge Science Park, Trinity College and TusPark.
“The unique collaboration, with its focus on healthcare, deep technology and environmental technology, will catalyse the discovery of solutions to some of the major unmet needs facing the world today.”
At the topping-out ceremony, Trinity College’s senior bursar Rory Landman praised the work of Cambridge Science Park director Jeanette Walker “for her tireless energy and enthusiasm”, which he said was “instrumental” in the project.
He also thanked architects Scott Brownrigg and contractor SDC, along with the professional support of Bidwells and Mill & Reeve.
“TusPark Cambridge is glad to be a member of this community,” concluded Kevin Lin.
The day (July 19, 2018) also saw the opening of the Tsinghua Alumni Hub in the UK.
(Article from The Cambridge Independent, 31 July 2018)