A keenly contested grant has allowed a leading UK manufacturer in the medical research field to expand its north-east base and create new jobs. Billingham-based Cambridge Research Biochemicals (CRB) recently won a ‘Let’s Grow’ grant (worth £65,000), allowing it to move from its Belasis Park premises to a neighbouring location on the Tees Valley Enterprise Zone which is over twice the size.
CRB, a specialist manufacturer of custom-made peptides and antibodies – both key tools in drug discovery – supplies some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies as well as leading research institutes. The grant win was timely as the company, the world’s second-oldest peptide manufacturer, is in a flourishing market growing at a rate of 15% per year.
Emily Humphrys, CRB’s Commercial Director, said: “The expansion will allow us to strengthen our team and operating base and gives us ample room to grow again in the future. We knew we needed to expand to take advantage of new markets and opportunities. The financial support from this grant and a 5 year Business Rate relief scheme has made the difference in ensuring that this project can go ahead sooner rather than later.”
‘Let’s Grow’ is part of a £30 million Regional Growth Fund (RGF) programme designed to help fund R&D projects that create or safeguard jobs in the north east of England. Potential applicants had to win a series of competitions run by north-east newspapers, The Journal and Evening Gazette in order to secure funding jointly provided by Trinity Mirror Group newspapers, BE Group (Business Enterprise) and UNW LLP (Financial Accountants).
The grant will support a £0.9M investment programme including the purchase and refurbishment of 10,000 sq ft to create a mixture of new laboratories and office space.
CRB’s move, which will take place at the beginning of next year, allows the company to create more manufacturing space; in particular, increase its peptide chemistry operation and expand its work on products used in the immunology field. The latter includes the creation of a cell-culture suite for use in monoclonal antibody production in addition to facilities at the University of Durham and Babraham, Cambridge. As a result, CRB will be recruiting more staff, including peptide chemists, cell-culture scientists and sales account managers.
Alison White, CRB Operations Director, added: “This move to new premises is our second in 12 years and represents a significant step for our company. In particular, it allows us to start our expansion plans sooner and to fast-track our growth from overseas. In Japan, for example, we have seen at first-hand how we can rapidly grow our business by accessing Far-East markets.”
Councillor Mike Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport at Stockton Borough Council, said: “Stockton Council has been working closely with Cambridge Research Biochemicals to support their expansion in Stockton Borough. We are delighted that they are now able to bring their expansion plans to fruition and will look forward to the creation of a number of high-quality jobs to support their aspirations for the future.”
The company, which was taken over by Humphrys and White in a management buy-out in 2000, has been at Belasis Court since 2001 and has steadily built up its reputation as a global player. Recent successes include the licensing rights for a novel method that allows peptides to carry therapeutic drugs directly into cells; diseases that could benefit include muscular dystrophies, cancer and metabolic diseases. It has also renewed its contract with UK Shared Business Services Ltd which means that CRB can build on its existing relationship with the Medical Research Council and other UK research institutes as well as exploring opportunities to work with a wider pool of universities.
Alison White (Operations Director) and Emily Humphrys (Commercial Director) of Cambridge Research Biochemicals outside their new premises at 17-19 Belasis Court, Belasis Hall Technology Park, Billingham