A trade mission to attract Chinese investment and create jobs in the East of England’s cutting life sciences sector has led to hundreds of useful contacts which could lead to a multi-million pound boost to the regional economy.
In the last week delegates from Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk have travelled round Jiangsu province promoting the East of England as an ideal UK venue to do business.
They have met about 200 life science business, research institutes and government people telling them about the benefits of either setting up or collaborating with the companies and research parks in the East of England.
The delegates include Cllr Sue Lissimore Essex County Council Deputy to the Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Infrastructure, Cllr Colleen Walker, Norfolk County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development and experts from Anglia Ruskin MedTech campus, Norwich Research Park, University Campus Suffolk and Plant Bioscience Ltd.
They have had face-to-face meetings with representatives from about 100 life science companies.
They spent two hours with the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of a major Chinese pharmaceutical company that is interested in sourcing new drug technologies. The company is also interested in visiting the East of England and setting up a research operation.
The delegation has also agreed with the Jiangsu Department of Public Health to develop an exchange programme for doctors and nurses that will lead to universities in the East of England winning new students.
Some of their meetings have been filmed and broadcast on Chinese television.
The delegation returns this weekend. Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk County Councils will then start work on turning the contacts into investment.
Cllr Lissimore said: “We have put the East of England on the map for a very targeted group of Jiangsu businesses.
“I have found it tremendously interesting meeting so many representatives from such a variety of Life Sciences businesses and organisations, including some companies that incorporate traditional Chinese medicine with new research.”
Cllr Walker said: “I am looking forward to returning to Norfolk to update life science businesses across the county with details of the fantastic links we have made. I am very hopeful that as a result of this trip Chinese investors will choose Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex as a great location for their business. There has been much interest in the Norwich Research Park.”
Councillor Richard Smith MVO, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for economic development, said: “The trade mission has been very successful. I look forward to talking to my colleagues in Essex and Norfolk on their return and then seeing the links they made in China become investment in our region.”
The East of England has one of the most advanced life sciences sectors in the UK. Specialties include agricultural technologies, clinical research, medical technologies, human health, food research, gene research, biotechnology and environmental technologies.
Links with China were started by Essex County Council 25 years ago and have resulted in many economic and cultural ties.