Nottingham University and Nottingham Trent University have opened the largest biomedical science park and incubation centre in the UK, writes Tony Tysome.
BioCity Nottingham is a joint venture between the two universities and the East Midlands Development Agency, with backing from chemical giant BASF.
With about 12,000 square metres of office and laboratory space, the park has the potential to grow to become the biggest of its kind in Europe.
The venture attracted more than £4.5 million of investment, and five companies, including some university spin-offs, located themselves at the facility.
The site for BioCity was donated to Nottingham Trent by BASF when it decided to divest itself of its global pharmaceutical business in 2001. It is believed to be the largest corporate gift to a new university.
BioCity Nottingham is designed to allow the city's two universities to successfully exploit the results of their investments in biomedical sciences.
Nottingham is developing a £7 million centre to apply post-genomic research to diseases such as arthritis and cancer. Douglas Robertson, director of research business development at the university, said:
"Articulating the results of research into practice is essential, and BioCity fulfils a key role for emerging biotechnology and healthcare companies."
Ray Cowell, vice-chancellor of Nottingham Trent, added: "The university already does world-class research in this area, and BioCity will serve to enhance and develop this and allow the partners to take advantage of the pool of skilled graduates in the region."
Opening the park, Barry Stickings, BASF European president and chairman of BioCity Nottingham, said: "By helping to commercialise research, BioCity can play an important role in the local and regional economies and in bringing the benefits of research to the wider population."