Innovation Summit Celebrates Decade of Growth at Discovery Park

The UK’s science minister has praised a decade of growth at Discovery Park.

The ministerial vote of confidence coincided with the Innovation Summit, which attracted more than 300 industry professionals from across the UK, from science, technology, and engineering businesses, plus education, finance and government.

Minister of State at the new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, George Freeman MP said: “The success of Discovery Park is the result of a strategic long-term public and private partnership between Government in London and Kent. It demonstrates the power of the UK’s £94 billion life sciences sector in driving economic regeneration in clusters all around the UK.

“Having helped set up the Discovery Park Task Force and Life Science Opportunity Zones in the coalition government 10 years ago it is great to see how Discovery Park is now a world class incubator of new life science technologies and companies – as this Summit of 300 life science leaders shows.”

Innovate UK, the national innovation agency, presented at the summit, highlighting support for UK companies with a total portfolio of £6 billion of public money. Its session included information on Government focus areas, including precision neuroscience and new agri-tech, plus opportunities for collaboration and grants accepting applications.

Mayer Schreiber, CEO of Discovery Park, added: “The success of Discovery Park has been built on creating the right environment to equip early-stage and scale-up businesses, combined with the Government’s commitment to nurturing innovation and backing for the high-growth industries of today and tomorrow, to succeed.

“Our work has helped foster partnership, promote skills and unlock finance and business support. As a Life Sciences Opportunity Zone, Discovery Park is perfectly placed to nurture a culture of innovation. Life sciences and technology remain areas of priority for investment from the Government, so it’s imperative we unite different industries and academia to share experiences and learnings.”

The Innovation Summit highlighted how technology and AI is advancing exponentially and revolutionising industry.

Attendees toured Discovery Park’s newly opened flexible lab complex which is designed for start-ups and growing companies. The new facilities come with a range of business support services, including an on-site Barclay’s Eagle Lab and Discovery Park’s own seed fund, Discovery Park Ventures.

The summit included a session focused on driving innovation through creative and breakthrough thinking, hosted by David J Hall​, Founder and CEO of the Ideas Centre Group. Experts covered the use of AI and big data, ensuring intellectual property is aligned to a company’s growth and continuing to be innovative. Two panel discussions also took place, covering the digital future of healthcare and food systems.

Steven Roberts, Chief Scientific Advisor at Barclays, gave a keynote speech on addressing challenges in the corporate landscape using innovation. Other key speakers and panellists included representatives from Pfizer, GrowUp Farms, Digital Catapult, Cancer Research Horizons and sponsor, Abel + Imray, the trademark and patent attorney.

Discovery Park on Track for the Opening of Thanet Parkway

Ahead of the opening of Thanet Parkway railway station at the end of next month, Discovery Park has unveiled a dedicated shuttle service for visitors to the county’s largest science and innovation park, near Sandwich in Kent.

Operated from its visitor centre, the all-electric Mercedes Sprinter will take guests to and from the new railway station, with Southeastern connecting East Kent to London St Pancras in little over an hour, and 32-minutes to Ashford International. It will be made available to the 160 companies operating from the 220-acre site.

Mayer Schreiber, CEO, Discovery Park, said: “The new station will be an important part of the Discovery Park story by improving our rail connectivity not only to London, but also to the rest of the county.

“It will also help enhance the work-life balance of the thousands of people employed here, cut down on car miles, and make Discovery Park an even more productive place to work.”

Southeastern will operate the service from Thanet Parkway from 31 July.

Top 5 Tips for Early Stage Life Science Companies on How to Approach Funding

By Emma Palmer Foster, Director of Discovery Park Ventures


Since Discovery Park Ventures launched last year, I have listened to dozens of pitches from early-stage life sciences companies, most recently spun out from universities.

Being an investor has provided unique insights into how young companies can be taken seriously by funders. Of course, your science must be strong, the hypothesis exciting and with potential to scale, but that in itself is not enough.

Here are my five insights for early-stage companies to consider when thinking about funding and preparing to pitch to investors:


Build and utilise your network: Find a mentor – Look for someone who is a ‘critical friend’, someone who will challenge your thinking and help you to navigate the inevitable bumps in the road.

The skills of business are very different from the skills of science. Successful start-ups identify mentors and collaborate with peers, building a network. Mentors can help you to navigate obstacles and overcome hurdles, as well as providing fresh perspective and valuable feedback before you pitch. Renos Savva, Head of Innovation at Discovery Park is the best of the best when it comes to mentoring and supporting new entrepreneurs.


A good idea is not always a good business: Put yourself into the mind of your investor and be sure to articulate clearly the commercial opportunity in your scientific discovery. How will you make money from your idea? And who will be your potential customer?

Approach pitches from the perspective of an investor, focusing on the problem your process or application can solve, and the benefits this could bring. All the companies who received investment from Discovery Park Ventures focused on the product and did not become over-enthused by the joy of discovery.


Understand the market: Do your research – understand the size of your market. Are there any time constraints? Who are your competitors? What is your next milestone and where and when might your eventual exit be?

An investors’ job is to probe for weaknesses, to identify where new technologies are adding unnecessary complexity or where start-ups have failed to research their competitors. Always take a step back to reflect on the bigger picture and how you play into it.


People matter: Much of the investment decision is based on who’s in the team and what have they done previously. The investor needs to believe you have the drive and ambition to deliver, so demonstrate all the skills in your team, not just technical know-how!

Investors don’t just look at the science, it’s an investment in the people driving the business. This means showing your personality and demonstrating that your business ethic is as strong as your laboratory know-how.


Know your elevator pitch: You must be able to clearly articulate your proposal in just a few minutes and remember that investors may not have a scientific background, so keep it smart and simple.

Discovery Park Ventures was amongst the sponsors at BioSeed 2023, providing early-stage life science companies with access to potential investors. For participants, the five minute slot provided probably didn’t feel like sufficient time to explain the principles behind their ideas and convince investors to come onboard, but in reality, if you can’t sum up your proposal in less than half that time, potential backers can switch off and lose focus.


Harnessing the wealth of exciting science emerging from across the UK is a national priority and Discovery Park Ventures has ambitious plans for expansion. Within three years, we expect to have grown the fund from £1m to £25m and we are constantly on the search for exciting new start-ups.

To all entrepreneurs and early stage companies, this is your moment. Policy and investors have never been more supportive and geared up to recognise life science talent from all avenues. Now, happy pitching!

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