Cluster with clout

August 20, 1999

With some bumps along the road, the UK's bioindustry cluster seems to be on the way this week with the results of three high-technology planning applications near Cambridge (page 44). A big expansion of the Babraham research institute is set to go ahead, as is a much smaller scheme at the company Generics Group. And it seems that the Wellcome Trust will be allowed to build most of what it wants at the Hinxton Hall site earmarked for the commercialisation of its genome research.

The results show that science minister Lord Sainsbury has won in his advocacy of clustered development to push new technologies. And the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions has, as promised, used both economic and environmental criteria in its decision-making.

If Wellcome proceeds as the DETR suggests, by building space for genome start up businesses but not for established firms, there will be a gap in its Hinxton plans. But there will be a strong incentive for big companies wanting to stay that way to build links with the world-class genome work going on in and around Cambridge.

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