Away from the Westminster talk of prorogations and General Elections, it was business as usual for Labour Shadow Industrial Strategy Minister Chi Onwurah MP on Friday 6 September as she visited pioneering biotechnology company Newcells Biotech, based in her constituency of Newcastle upon Tyne Central.
Founded in 2014 as a spin out from Newcastle University, Newcells Biotech specialises in harnessing stem cells for use in drug discovery – operating as a supplier for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors. Boasting the knowledge and experience of a multidisciplinary team from industry and academia, Newcells Biotech is based in one of the UK’s leading centres for stem cell biology and is located alongside one of the largest research-intensive medical university and hospital complexes in the country.
With support from local Venture Capital Trust (VCT) fund NVM, Newcells has been able to hire four new members of staff, grow existing revenue streams and prepare for the launch of a new range of products. In addition to providing financial support, NVM has also been able to provide Newcells with the experience and expertise of two observers on its company board.
During a discussion about what a Labour government could do to support businesses like Newcells, key issues were continued access to patient capital through VCT funding, and tax incentives for research and development. The ability of companies like Newcells to recruit and retain talent from across Europe was also flagged as a pressing issue given the UK’s imminent departure from the European Union.
On the visit, Ms Onwurah said:
“It was great to meet a local start-up company with brilliant scientists working to address some very important health challenges with innovative new technology, supported by local venture capital. It’s one of the success stories we should be championing as a city and a region”.
Ms Onwurah also tweeted about the visit, praising Newcells for employing “brilliant scientists from all over the world including Fenham”.