How Can Innovation Solve Real Problems for the NHS?

An interview with Dr Mayur Vibhuti, Chief Clinical Information Officer NHS Kent & Medway Integrated Care Board (ICB), NHS England Clinical Entrepreneur Fellow, and Martin Carpenter, Chief Digital Transformation Officer NHS Kent & Medway ICB.


The NHS is considered by many to be one of the UK’s proudest achievements, but it is also under undeniable strain, with the current situation unsustainable for clinicians and patients alike. Opportunities lie in the integration of innovative solutions, both operational and clinical technologies, but this is often easier said than done.

At NHS Kent & Medway, Dr Mayur Vibhuti, Chief Clinical Information Officer, and Martin Carpenter, Chief Digital Transformation Officer, are working to find ways to integrate new technologies in a way that will transform the NHS to deliver for our current and future society. They recently hosted a reverse pitching event at Discovery Park to bring together key stakeholders and encourage cross-collaboration to generate meaningful solutions for real problems.


What was the idea behind the reverse pitching event and what were you aiming to achieve?

Mayur: Having been involved in setting up a primary care innovation hub in Medway before the Covid pandemic, we wanted to recreate something similar. Often solutions that are being developed by industry don’t match the immediate need. We want to bring together industry and academic partners with clinicians to develop solutions for current systemic problems that no one organisation could solve.

Martin: I’m pretty new to the NHS. I joined at the start of this year having worked in the private sector for most of my career. When I was on the panel at the Innovation Summit at Discovery Park, there was a question from the audience: ‘how does the NHS encourage innovation?’. In my experience, the answer is not very well! The NHS is not set up in a way that supports innovation as there are so many different organisations across the system. Start-ups don’t have the time or money to talk to multiple people within the system in order to find the right fit. The NHS therefore has to think differently around innovation.

The foundation of a good start-up is a good product market fit; if you don’t get that right you’ll fail at some point on your journey. The reverse pitch is designed to make sure the product market fit is right using real world NHS problems that need fixing, not just an academic exercise.

Mayur: The reverse pitching event stemmed from a desire to bring all the relevant people together around one subject matter using a problem-based methodology. When Martin met Jane Kennedy, Chief Business Officer at Discovery Park, at their Innovation Summit earlier this year, it was clear that our ambitions aligned with those of the team and companies at Discovery Park and it all came together.

We took three wicked problems – how to diagnose cancer faster using existing systems; how to improve the logistics around long term care management; and how to improve preventative care – and put them in front of an audience of academia and industry. These may not seem like super complicated problems outside of the NHS, but within the organisation there isn’t the relevant expertise or the money to solve them. We knew we wouldn’t get solutions on the day, but we wanted to make connections and focus minds on the pressing issues for the NHS and how their solutions might align.


How was the event? What key themes emerged from the day?

Martin: As the first event we’ve organised for this purpose, we’re really pleased with the result. It was great to see over 50 people from a vast array of backgrounds including primary care, academia, industry and VCs all in the same room and create a buzz around the aims of our network.

One key theme that emerged was around workflow and making it easier for people in the NHS to do their jobs. Current systems require high levels of training to make sure jobs can be done rather than using technology to drive process adherence and standardisation. There is a clear opportunity here that is still to be realised.

Mayur: This was a bit of a soft launch to see what would happen, but we’re really pleased with how it turned out. We saw lots of networking which is a key goal for us – bringing together people with aligned purposes who should have met but hadn’t yet. Health care is complex and we’re unlikely to get linear solutions but by making the introductions and seeing opportunities to facilitate collaboration we’re aiming to demystify both sides.


What are your plans for future events?

Mayur: We’re not planning to have a strict rule as to what the innovation hub is, we want to be agile and go where the energy is. We’re aiming to provide a forum for people with a shared purpose but going about it in different ways. This will be the golden thread connecting all our activities coming up.

Martin: More of the same really! We want to get more people involved who are at the right stage for the NHS, with sufficient product development to have a viable solution, but not so far developed that it’s too late to tailor their offering to ensure that alignment.


What are the current hold ups for industry/NHS collaboration?

Martin: The NHS has a way of working which isn’t suitable to encourage a start-up ecosystem – and the challenge is for the NHS to adapt not the other way round. We need to change the way of working and thinking to encourage risk taking and agile thinking. This will need to create slick internal processes that allow quick decision making as without that start-ups will fail.

Mayur: The best analogy I’ve heard recently is that people think the NHS is a whale but it’s actually a shoal of fish – all moving in the same direction but thousands of different organisations with their own goals and processes. This doesn’t make it easy for start-ups to interact with. And change isn’t easy as people within the NHS are too busy delivering their own goals to take a broader overview of the situation. There are a cohort of people who want to make change, but it is too difficult and they are too time poor to do so. We need to introduce a space to make the process easier.


What are the benefits of regional networks to drive this collaboration?

Mayur: Regional networks will be key to aligning purpose and delivering a real impact. We need to build an innovation pathway that enables ideas or products to be tested at a local level to measure impact, then expanded more widely across the county, and the country once we’ve shown they work. We don’t have a postcode to national pathway, but if we got the postcode to county pathway right, we could then recreate this elsewhere.

Martin: These regional centres are important for a number of reasons. The primary goal of the Integrated Care Boards is to reduce healthcare inequalities, which are a major concern. For example, there is a difference in life expectancy for men of over four years between Thanet and Maidstone. It is well known that economic prosperity correlates with health outcomes, so if we can stimulate an innovation ecosystem in Kent & Medway, we will not only find solutions for major healthcare challenges but also build a more prosperous, skilled workforce, and generate healthier outcomes. Bringing innovation into the mainstream is therefore vital to reduce these inequalities and improve outcomes.

Discovery Park is an amazing resource within Kent & Medway with innovative companies and high-tech lab space on our doorstep, alongside several leading universities. We have a fantastic opportunity to create a centre of excellence in life science and economic prosperity here by working together.


What more can we do to build on this?

Mayur: As a community we need to make a concerted effort to step outside of our organisational position on certain things to enable innovation. We need to come together, try different things and support people with the time they need to think differently. Risk and governance can kill innovation in public services, but with more collaboration this doesn’t have to be the case.

Martin: We really welcome feedback on how to improve our approach so please get in contact if you have any ideas that could help to deliver better outcomes for patients and create economic vibrancy in Kent.


To get involved or learn more contact


Martin Carpenter

Martin is Chief Digital Transformation Officer for NHS Kent & Medway ICB, joining the NHS in January 2023. Martin’s experience covers Pharma, a Genomics startup, UK Chief Information Officer (CIO) for Optum, tele-radiology, Social Housing and outsourcing. He is a Certified Healthcare CIO, Fellow of the Institute of Directors and has specific expertise in organisational transformation and Cyber.

Dr Mayur Vibhuti

Dr Mayur Vibhuti is a Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners with a varied experience of medical education, innovation, and transformation roles in primary care. He is currently Chief Clinical Information Officer for NHS Kent & Medway ICB and NHS England Workforce Training & Education directorate GP Associate Dean clinical lead for NHS Kent & Medway Training Hubs. He is also an NHS England Clinical Entrepreneur Fellow & a Visiting Reader in Medical Leadership at Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent.

He has run innovative training programmes for GPs & Multi-professionals working in primary care and set up a pan system innovation hub to accelerate adoption of new technologies.

Discovery Park Response to the Autumn Statement

Following today’s autumn statement, there are promising signs of support for the UK’s vital industries, including £4.5 billion of funding for British manufacturers. Discovery Park’s designation as a Life Science Opportunity Zone recognised the park’s growth potential, highlighting the science park’s fantastic infrastructure and ability to support advanced manufacturing. We prioritise the development of sustainable solutions and are pleased to see the commitment to support clean energy included as part of this plan.

With many high-growth businesses based on site, the announced pension reforms and new Growth Fund within the British Business Bank are a welcome inclusion. We look forward to witnessing the impact of this £75 billion of financing for these high-growth companies. This, combined with the announced expense tax cuts, will allow these companies to invest in important equipment to cement their growth.

AI is already playing a significant role in the development of new medicines and technologies, so the £500 million to support Compute innovation centres will be vital to build the UK’s reputation in this growing area and we anticipate the benefits of this growth being felt across industries. We can already see the benefits that convergence is bringing to the life sciences sector and the growing emergence of ‘techbio’ in accelerating the pace of drug development.

The announcement of £20 million in funding for new dementia treatments will be key to developing novel therapies and likely benefit thousands of people, however, the lack of a comprehensive plan to build the life sciences industry is disappointing. The sector is still booming, and we’ve seen an uplift in demand for lab space from new and growing businesses at Discovery Park.

In order to realise the UK’s potential as a science superpower, a focused strategy will be needed alongside an ability to think ‘outside the triangle’. We hope to see the government share more around this in the coming days.

Kent’s property market recovery reflects changing ways of working and living

The performance of the county’s property industry reflects the recent changes to how the public lives, works and plays, according to this year’s Kent Property Market Report.

Recognising that the country has experienced the economic shocks of the emergence from Covid; the war in Ukraine, and rises in inflation and interest rates, the report highlights that Kent’s property sector is showing early signs of recovery with investment coming forward, especially in the logistics and distribution, science park sectors, and the tourism and leisure industry.

Now in its 32nd edition, the annual Kent Property Market Report is produced by Caxtons Property Consultants, Kent County Council and Locate in Kent.


Cllr Roger Gough, Leader of Kent County Council, said: “It’s clear from the report that it continues to be a challenging environment for the industry, with the winners and losers closely linked to changes in how we all live and work.

“What remains unchanged is Kent’s competitive advantage from its proximity to London thanks to its motorway and rail connections, and links to Europe via the cross-Channel ports. Investing in infrastructure is crucial and we recently celebrated the opening of Thanet Parkway railway station. We continue to push the Government for greater investment in the county’s road network, including a start date for the Lower Thames Crossing and widening of the A2, as well as lobbying Eurostar for the return of services via Kent on HS1.

“With online sales up 45% since the start of the pandemic, trading conditions continue to be tough for many high street retailers with the major beneficiary being the logistics and distribution sector which continues to invest across the county. It is good to see is our town centres being recognised as a government priority, with funding support for a number of them, which will persuade more new stores to open in some of them.”


Once again Kent’s location, close to London, means it has outperformed certain sectors in the South East. Demand for commercial space, especially in the logistics and distribution sector, continues to drive rental growth, which is helping to persuade market leading developers to invest.

The county’s science and innovation sectors, both vital to the economic wellbeing of the country’s economy, have also seen investment and take-up of space. The increased global investment in R&D spending in the life science sector post-pandemic is supporting growth at Discovery Park and Kent Science Park, with both bringing new laboratory space onstream.


Mark Coxon, Head of Commercial Agency at Caxtons, added: “Kent’s industrial property sector continues to blaze a trail for growth, with developers benefitting from rental growth that’s beyond the South East average. While land values may have fallen from their peak, investment continues notably in Dartford, Medway, Sittingbourne, and Tonbridge and Malling.

“The impact of how many of us have changed the way we work, especially those who are office-based, is now playing out with businesses and the public sector reviewing their property requirements. With hybrid working looking like it is here to stay, the biggest winners are the co-working space providers, with Kent increasingly well served at the moment.”


Kent’s leisure and tourism sector has bounced back with domestic overnight spend worth £477m in 2021, up 97% on the previous year, stimulating major investments. The result has been an economic tonic for coastal communities, such as Folkestone and Margate, but also Kent’s market towns and villages.

Simon Ryan, Investment Director, Locate in Kent, said: “Again, the Kent Property Market Report shows the region’s real estate resilience despite the challenges of recent years. Investment here brings prosperity for the whole country. Our own research suggests £23 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA) could be added by the region to the UK economy by 2050 as investment is made – from delivering faster, more sustainable distribution of goods through the Channel Ports and science park expansion to the green jobs that will supercharge manufacturing, logistics, construction and food production in the region and beyond.

“Our local challenge is to be more agile in responding to market needs through local planning authorities collaborating across boundaries. The planning system needs to analyse economic needs regionally to bring forward more employment sites and infrastructure and not according to arbitrary administrative boundaries. We need to act ‘larger than local.”


The residential property market has been cooled by interest rate rises and the cost-of-living crisis, but according to the Q2 2023 figures from the Land Registry, Kent house prices are still 2% up on the Q2 2022, with Tunbridge Wells the top performer at 10.1% up during the period. Some housebuilders have paused their land buying activities, despite prices having fallen by 10-11% from their peak. The situation is made more challenging for housebuilders due to the ongoing absence of a clear solution to the nutrient neutrality issue, and uncertainty over the Government’s renewable energy and biodiversity agenda. However, major schemes, such as Ebbsfleet Garden City, Otterpool, and Mountfield Park, near Canterbury, continue to progress.

Keynote speakers at the report’s launch included Jane Kennedy, Chief Business Officer at Discovery Park, who highlighted how its community of science and businesses on the site at Sandwich has grown and is now worth more than £324m a year to the UK economy. She was joined on stage by Liz Hamson, editor in chief of BE News, the online industry property news service, who gave her personal take on the performance of the sector and outlook for Kent.



Jane Kennedy commented, “The new Kent Property Market Report reflects ongoing changes in our economy, including the growing importance of R&D and the life sciences. With R&D spending set to rise to 2.4% of GDP by 2027, we’re seeing an increase in demand for laboratory space at Discovery Park, and we’ve welcomed a number of exciting science-based businesses to site.

“Within easy reach of London and the Golden Triangle, Discovery Park provides lab space and headspace located in beautiful Kent countryside with affordable living costs. We look forward to welcoming more businesses to the area and continuing to develop this thriving hub of opportunity, both for the science community and the wider Kent economy.”


The launch of the 2023 Kent Property Market Report was supported by Clear MPW, DHA, Hollaway Studio, MHA, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Thomson Snell & Passmore. It was unveiled on 7 November to an audience of 260 industry guests at the Ashford International Hotel.

For further information on the latest performance of the county’s property industry, visit

Discovery Park and Researcher partner to support scientific collaboration

Discovery Park, Kent’s thriving life science community, has partnered with scientific content discovery and discussion platform, Researcher, to promote collaboration and facilitate scientific progress.

Building strong networks of like-minded organisations is vital to support the growing life science industry and facilitate the sharing of expertise. Discovery Park and Researcher’s aligned values of collaboration and supporting research to advance scientific progress presented a clear partnership opportunity. Both parties will be introduced to a wider, highly relevant audience, allowing increased visibility within the scientific community.

As part of the partnership, Discovery Park will introduce its life science tenants to Researcher and its new AI market intelligence tool REID (Researcher Equipment Insights Directory). Researcher will promote Discovery Park’s start-up programme, Discovery Spark, to its users and is also offering one year’s free access to REID to the winner. Discovery Park will also feature as sponsors of a live events series on Researcher Live.

Mary Sweny, Head of Partnerships and Business Development at Researcher, commented: “Having met the Discovery Park team at several events recently, it’s clear that there are lots of synergies and benefits of working together, and this partnership clearly provides a great opportunity for us to further support scientific collaboration and discovery. We’re delighted to be working with Martino and the Discovery Park team and look forward to seeing the impact our partnership will have on innovative science organisations and their research.”

Martino Picardo, Chairman of Discovery Park, added: “We’re committed to providing a supportive network that facilitates collaboration and delivers exciting opportunities to companies based at Discovery Park. This partnership not only gives us the opportunity to engage with a wider audience, but also offers our tenants access to a unique, forward-looking platform that will help them to collaborate and drive the progress of their research.”

DLOC Biosystems chooses Discovery Park for new biology facility to develop organ-on-a-chip technology

DLOC Biosystems has selected Discovery Park, Kent, as the location for its new biology facility. The company will set up a biology lab within Discovery Park’s thriving life science cluster to continue development of its state-of-the-art organ-on-a-chip technology and deliver accurate assay testing services to pharmaceutical companies to advance drug discovery.

DLOC Biosystems was founded to enable faster, safer and cheaper drug development. The company’s chips provide an environment where cells can grow and reorganise into tissues, providing the perfect setting for large scale, affordable drug testing. Its technology will help to enable the reduction and replacement of animal testing, by providing more accurate data on safety and efficacy than current pre-clinical testing models.

With an engineering team based in Lebanon, DLOC was looking to build a new biology team based in the UK. The company selected Discovery Park’s high-spec lab facilities just over an hour from London due to its reputation as a leading hub for life sciences and the opportunity it offers for future expansion. Discovery Park’s extensive ecosystem provides future opportunities for collaboration as well as a network of potential customers, a key consideration for life science start-ups.

Wadah Malaeb, CEO and Founder of DLOC Biosystems, commented: “We were initially interested in locating in London as it offered access to an excellent talent pool, however, the cost and availability of high-spec lab space as well as living costs for potential employees proved inhibitive. When I visited Discovery Park, I was impressed not just by the quality of the facilities available, but also by the extensive business support offered by the team. The park and its surroundings provide an ideal location to build our business and I look forward to joining the Discovery Park community.”

Chris Broom, Head of Business Development at Discovery Park, added: “We’re passionate about supporting the transformation of ideas into successful commercial innovation. As well as access to our cutting-edge facilities, DLOC will have the opportunity to network and collaborate with our community of innovative start-ups and established companies. We are excited to welcome Wadah and his team to Discovery Park and look forward to working with them to support the growth of the company and deliver significant benefits to the drug discovery industry.”

DLOC is currently recruiting a biology team leader to start and build its new team at Discovery Park and will also expand its engineering team on site. It is also participating in the Discovery Spark programme for life science start-ups to develop and refine its business offering.

House of Lords Horticultural Sector Committee visits Kent-based vertical farm, GrowUp Farms

“We’re proud to be the home of pioneering vertical farm, GrowUp Farms and all the work they’re doing to transform UK agriculture. Building on Kent’s strong farming heritage, the GrowUp Farms team are integrating innovative systems to create a sustainable, resilient food system at scale. We look forward to continuing to support them and welcoming other organisations to this exciting community.” – Jane Kennedy, Chief Business Officer at Discovery Park.

Members of the Lords Horticultural Sector Committee visited pioneering Kent-based vertical farm, GrowUp Farms, in Sandwich last week to find out about how vertical farming will play a key role in the future of farming.

Lord Carter, Lord Colgrain, Lord Coles, Baroness Fookes, Lord Redesdale and Baroness Walmsley visited the farm – called Pepperness – which is leading the charge in vertical farms in the UK as it was the first to sell its salad ranges through UK supermarkets.

The House of Lords Horticultural Sector Committee was created in April this year to produce a report on the horticultural industry. A 12-strong committee from all parties including crossbenchers is considering the challenges faced by the sector, which is worth billions to the UK economy and is a significant contributor to UK food security.

GrowUp Farms is the UK’s leading vertical farm, and launched its Unbeleafable salad range in Tesco stores in July this year.

A vertical farm is an innovative agricultural system, designed to grow crops in vertically stacked layers in a controlled indoor environment.  The growing process means that salad can be grown year-round in the UK and uses up to 94% less water than traditional growing.

Pepperness grows the salad without the need to use pesticides of any kind, nor does it need chlorine-washing, in fact the salad doesn’t need to be washed at all before eating – all processes which degrade the quality of the leaves.  The supply chain is significantly reduced, so the salad only travels from Kent to UK supermarkets, rather than from overseas.  It tastes fresher and crisper and lasts longer than other salads, which means there’s less waste produced too.

“We’re very proud of what we are achieving here at Pepperness, and the part we’re playing in the future of food security for the UK” said Kate Hofman, founder and Chief Brand Officer of GrowUp Farms.  “Currently the UK imports around 67% of its salad from warmer climates, and this rises to 90% in the winter*, so vertical farms can help the UK to be more self-sufficient in producing food.”

“We were delighted to welcome the House of Lords Horticultural Sector Committee to Pepperness, and we very much support the inquiry into the considerable challenges facing this sector, not least the effects of climate change.

“We grow, harvest, and pack our salads for supermarkets across the UK, all at Pepperness in Kent.  The farm’s highly controlled environment simulates a beautiful Mediterranean spring day, every day, providing the perfect growing conditions for salad.”

Lord Redesdale, Chair of the Committee, said: “Horticulture is worth billions to the UK economy. From healthy fruit and vegetables to the multitude of crop and plant varieties that can be grown in the UK, it is a fundamental component of a secure food supply, supports the wellbeing of millions of people, and could provide innovative solutions to the challenges presented by climate change. Despite this, horticulture has been continually overlooked and undervalued.

“As part of our inquiry, we were delighted to visit Pepperness and see how GrowUp Farms is putting real innovation into practice to build resilience into the UK horticulture sector.”

Pepperness was originally a brownfield site. Following £100m investment, GrowUp Farms is building the equivalent of 1000 acres of Grade 1 farmland on the site and has recently got the green light to further expand the farm, which will increase its output by 40%.

GrowUp Farms was the first vertical farm to sell a salad in a UK supermarket when it launched its first salad brand, Fresh Lead Co. into Iceland in February 2023.  It is also the first to sell a vertical farm produced salad range in Tesco, with the launch of Unbeleafable in July.

Hofman does have a wider message for the Government: “Although we are already producing food and selling it through the UK’s biggest supermarket, we are at a disadvantage compared to traditional growers when it comes to access to incentives. Vertical farms are treated as emerging technology which means we cannot benefit from the ‘Sustainable Farming Incentive’ in Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS), which traditional farmers receive to improve their practices.

“If vertical farming continues to be treated as an emerging technology, the government is missing an opportunity to grow the industry, create a sustainable supply chain and deliver the outcomes laid out in the government’s Environment Plan. The extension of ELMS to include vertical farming would create a level playing field for more farming techniques that produce high-quality food and take care of the environment.”

*British Retail Consortium

About GrowUp Farms  

  • GrowUp Farms was founded by Kate Hofman and Tom Webster in 2013 and is a pioneer in UK vertical farming.
  • GrowUp Farms grows its salads in a controlled environment, where the climate provides the plants with perfect conditions. This means it can grow to the best standard all year round and is resilient to climate change.
  • GrowUp Farms is the first vertical farm to introduce a branded salad into a supermarket chain in the UK with the launch of Fresh Leaf Co. in Iceland stores across the country earlier this year.
  • GrowUp Farms’ newest vertical farm is near Sandwich, Kent. It combines innovative farming technology with renewable energy, using electricity and waste heat from the bioenergy plant next door, which means the farm is not affected by the energy price increases squeezing greenhouse and conventional farmers in the UK.
  • GrowUp Farms is B Corp certified with a high B Impact Score of 104.7 points, against the pass threshold of 80 points. The score reflects GrowUp Farms’ commitment to the high standards set by B Corp to achieve social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability in all areas of the business as well as contributing to the economic and social well-being of the communities that GrowUp Farms operates in, alongside a commitment to environmental causes.

Discovery Park selects 13 start-ups to join Discovery Spark life science programme

  • The 8-week programme offers in person training from industry leaders to build strong business foundations and prepare for investment 
  • Finalists have the chance to win a business support package worth over £100,000, including one year of free lab space at Discovery Park and £50,000 investment from Discovery Park Ventures 
  • The winner will be announced at the GIANT Health conference on 5th December 2023 

Thirteen life science start-ups have been accepted onto Discovery Park’s new business support programme and competition, Discovery Spark.  The eight-week Discovery Spark programme will equip the early-stage companies with the necessary skills to catalyse their business growth plans and gives them the chance to win a business support package worth over £100,000. 

The start-ups span across the biotech, digital tech, engineering biology, synthetic biology and medical technology sectors. Participants were chosen by a judging panel that scored the start-ups based on their product or service, opportunity and market, team management, programme fit and investment potential. Taking part in the programme will be 3D Synthesis, Awen, Bing Bong Biologics, BioMavericks, BugBiome, CardioCrown, DLOC Biosystems, Dravya Discovery, KASNMR, Matrix Bio, Rapidx Bio, The Future Care and XR-Musica.  

As part of the programme, Discovery Park will host in-person training sessions, covering topics such as building an excellent team, understanding and conveying business metrics, and branding. The start-ups will also be able to take advantage of opportunities for networking, mentoring, learning from shared experiences and perfecting their investor pitch. The programme will culminate with an investor pitching event sponsored by Discovery Park as part of the GIANT Health conference on 5th December 2023. The start-up with the best pitch at the conference will win a business support package worth over £100,000. The package includes one free year of lab space at Discovery Park and £50,000 investment from Discovery Park Ventures, as well as comprehensive business support and mentoring. 

Discovery Park’s Head of Innovation, Renos Savva, is leading the programme, bringing extensive experience in science entrepreneurship including co-founding Domainex and providing training for life science audiences across academia and industry. He said: “We were overwhelmed by the number of applications for Discovery Spark. The start-ups selected show phenomenal potential and we’re excited to accelerate their growth. Being investor-ready is essential for start-ups and Discovery Spark ensures participants will have the best team, brand image and business know-how by the end of the programme.”  

BugBiome is harnessing the power of the skin microbiome to repel mosquitoes. Most mosquito repellents on the market provide protection for just a few hours and contain persistent synthetic chemicals that can harm the environment. BugBiome aims to utilise natural bacteria that repel mosquitoes to create an effective and safe solution. Alicia Showering, Founder and CEO at BugBiome, said: “We’re passionate about stopping the spread of deadly vector-borne diseases like malaria and Dengue by bringing longer-lasting natural repellents to market. Taking part in Discovery Spark will give us the necessary business tools to make this a reality.”  

Delayed diagnosis of microbial diseases leads 15 million avoidable deaths every year. RapidX has developed a disease detection technology to deliver point of care diagnosis in under 30 minutes. Its technology doesn’t require specialist training to use and has important implications for the targeted treatment of diseases which will be vital to combat microbial drug resistance.   

CardioCrown develops MedTech devices that empower stroke rehabilitation at home. Its integrated rehabilitation technology incorporates virtual reality, functional electrical stimulation and artificial intelligence to help accelerate the recovery of stroke patients. The engaging product will also reduce the time clinicians will have to spend with patients and help stroke units streamline processes. 

Mayer Schreiber, CEO at Discovery Park, commented: “Not only will participants receive business training fine-tuned to life-science start-ups, but also access to Discovery Park’s cutting-edge facilities, where they will have the opportunity to network, ideate and collaborate. Discovery Park is committed to supporting the next generation of life science leaders, and our Discovery Spark programme embodies that.” 

Discovery Park welcomes decision to re-join EU Horizon science programme

Discovery Park, Kent’s thriving life science community, welcomes today’s announcement that the UK will re-join the EU’s Horizon science research programme. This international collaboration brings together the brightest minds in the world and offers transformational funding that will be vital to drive scientific discovery.

Positioned in Kent at the interface of the UK and Europe, Discovery Park is home to a wide range of companies driving scientific development who will benefit from the opportunities this programme brings. Kent’s flourishing science and technology cluster will be a cornerstone of this growing international collaboration.

Following two years of negotiations, this news demonstrates the UK’s commitment to R&D and building a strong research pipeline. This will be key to developing solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges as well as building a strong science and technology economy in the UK.

Mayer Schreiber, CEO of Discovery Park, commented: “We’re excited by today’s news that the UK will once again be part of Horizon Europe’s world leading research programme. Collaboration is vital to successful science and innovation and the funding and partnership opportunities the programme offers will bring considerable benefits to the UK and Europe. Nowhere is this more relevant than Kent, on the doorstep of Europe. We look forward to seeing the companies based at Discovery Park and our local universities benefit from the programme as well as welcoming new organisations to the growing Kent science and technology community.”

Discovery Park Worth £324M a Year to UK Economy

A report into the economic impact of Kent’s largest community of science and innovation companies suggests Discovery Park is estimated to be worth more than £324 million a year to the UK economy.


The value is thanks to the combined efforts of the 160 companies and 3,100 employees at the Sandwich site. A further 900 contractors were employed at the science park during the last year, and an estimated 1,840 jobs are supported elsewhere, thanks to the activities of the Discovery Park-based companies.


Welcoming the news during a visit to Discovery Park, Cllr Roger Gough, Leader of Kent County Council, said: “The report confirms Discovery Park’s place as one of the county’s most important economic drivers. With some 14,600 STEM undergraduate and postgraduate students at the county’s universities it is important that we do everything to retain these skills in Kent. The commitment to promoting collaboration between the companies on site and the county’s colleges and universities is a model of good practice that we should highlight and encourage others to consider in strengthening Kent’s skills base and improve productivity.”


Of the jobs on site, 57% are involved in life sciences, health and social care, technology, information and communication companies. A further 9% work in manufacturing and engineering, plus 10% in construction, development and facilities management, and 13% in professional services.


Mayer Schreiber, CEO of Discovery Park, said: “The report recognises the work we have done to promote innovation and provide business support for our companies. We have successfully helped open doors to funding opportunities, made high quality laboratory and office space available, and nurtured the STEM skilled workforce of the future.


“Our mission is to become a world-leading science park. Many of the companies based here are driving improvements in healthcare through innovation and collaboration, and we are determined to play our part in creating the right conditions for growth.”


Demand for laboratory and office space remains strong. A £6m investment in a flexible laboratory facility, offering spaces from 250 sq ft to 3,000 sq ft, has proved popular with companies eager to set up and then scale-up, without the need to relocate as they expand.


Funding for start-ups and scale-up businesses remains a challenge for the country’s science community. Since it launched Discovery Park Ventures, the early-stage life sciences fund, it has invested in six high potential businesses. The companies are involved in manufacturing, digital and AI, cell and gene therapies, synthetic biology and neurology, including ophthalmology.


An important element of Discovery Park’s success has been achieved by helping companies grow on site by focusing on skills development. The Skills Hub, a partnership with Canterbury Christ Church UniversityEKC GroupPfizerThe Stem Hub and University of Kent, is helping tenants to offer further training to their workforce, as well as helping them to find new talent and retain existing people to drive their businesses forward.


Discovery Park recently became home to one of the country’s 30 Barclays Eagle Labs offering co-working and incubator communities for start-ups and scale-up companies. Based in Innovation House, it helps entrepreneurs and ambitious businesses innovate and grow, with a focus on collaboration between the life sciences and technology sectors.


The 220-acre science park has also been identified by the Government as a Life Sciences Opportunity Zone, with established links to academia and a thriving scientific community.

Discovery Planet Secures Backing of Discovery Park

A Kent social enterprise that offers popular and practical workshops on science, technology, engineering, arts and maths (STEAM) to people in East Kent has struck a deal with Discovery Park, the science and innovation park near Sandwich.

Discovery Planet CIC, which is based in Ramsgate and operates across Thanet, partners with scientific institutions and industry professionals to connect young people and their families with the exciting world of science.

The charity has secured the support of Discovery Park in connecting it with businesses on the 220-acre science park, as well as East Kent College and local universities.

Having worked closely with Discovery Park’s management team, Discovery Planet will now work with companies at the science park to design and deliver a series of extracurricular workshops and learning opportunities.

Xanthe Pitt, Director at Discovery Planet, said: “This is fantastic news as it will give greater access to the practical applications of exciting science and how it solves real-world problems.

“It will connect us and the district’s young people with many of the forward-thinking, innovative companies at Discovery Park which have made a commitment to working with the local community.”

As part of the deal, Discovery Park will make its events, marketing, social media and public relations teams available to Discovery Planet to help promote its work.

Jane Kennedy, Chief Business Officer at Discovery Park, said: “By collaborating with Discovery Planet, we reaffirm our commitment to making STEAM learning accessible for all and helping to foster a passion for these subjects from school years right through to working at the science park.

“We have many companies on site that are keen to show how science and technology can improve our world, and also promote the career opportunities that STEAM subjects can open up. By joining up with the team at Discovery Planet we will be able to make that happen quicker for the benefit of the local community. Together we will arrange and promote a programme of events, including one with global power specialist Cummins’ on-site team.”

Individuals and businesses interested in working with Discovery Planet should contact

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