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Kent is the gateway to success

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Businesses in the Garden of England will have even more opportunities to grow in the future.

That is the conclusion of business leaders as Kent sees the launch of a major new industry network and a continued increase in the number of foreign-based companies heading for the county.

Kent’s thriving life science community received a fresh boost with BioGateway, a network that aims to help local companies connect with other businesses and research institutes in the UK and mainland Europe. The new project was officially launched at Discovery Park in Sandwich by Dr Mark Treherne, CEO UK Trade and Investment’s Life Science Organisation.

Leading figures in the national and international biotech community attended the event. Kent’s 150 life science companies support more than 6,800 jobs and BioGateway’s aim is to see those figures grow.

“Kent is home to many leading names in the life science sector, including global players such as Pfizer, Mylan, Sekisui and Aesica,” said Simon Westbrook, acting chairman for BioGateway and CEO Levicept. “Over the last two years, there has been unprecedented growth in the number of companies moving into the region, with Kent becoming one of the fastest growing centres for life sciences in the UK. As a consequence, Kent found itself hosting a major life science cluster without all the benefits of an interactive and effective network. BioGateway was founded to create a focus for this vibrant community.”

It is not just life sciences that are helping Kent and Medway to play a leading role in the growing UK economy, according to Locate in Kent. At another summer event, guests heard how the UK has remained the number one European destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The number of projects coming to the UK in 2014/15 is up 12% on the previous year’s figures and of the 85,000 jobs created by FDI nationwide, nearly 2,400 were in Kent and Medway.

Richard Colley, head of local delivery at UK Trade and Investment, attended the event in Maidstone, where he outlined the importance of the Government department’s relationships with local partners such as Locate in Kent and Kent County Council. “We look to Locate in Kent for quality propositions and a coherent, joined up offer to present to potential clients across the globe,” Richard told the gathering. “We cannot achieve the results we do without partners such as you. We are a powerful team together. Other countries try to replicate what we do, but without success.”

Warwick Morris, who is stepping down as chairman of Locate in Kent after three years in the role, spoke of his enjoyment at working for an organisation that has achieved so much for Kent and Medway. Last year Locate in Kent exceeded its job creation target by reaching 3,325. At the time of writing, 44 US companies and 17 French businesses were considering investing in Kent.

“I am confident my successor is well-placed to take forward Locate in Kent, and hope that he will gain as much satisfaction as I have from seeing jobs created in a county that has so much to attract growing, ambitious businesses,” Warwick said. David Fitzsimmons, from Penshurst, is taking over as the agency’s new chairman. The former BP vice-president is currently a governor at the Skinners Kent Academy in Tunbridge Wells and a director and board member of a number of energy sector companies.

Author: SouthEast Business