A packed event looking at ways to grow West Sussex’s medical technology and pharmaceutical industry was held last Tuesday night.
More than 100 people from small and large firms in the health and life sciences sector from across the county attended the first meeting of its kind at Roffey Park near Horsham.
It was organised by West Sussex County Council as a platform for the companies to network as well as a chance to provide feedback on the authority’s economic ambitions.
Louise Goldsmith, leader of WSCC, described the event as a ‘terrific evening’ and felt it showed the county was ‘open for business’.
She said: “The health and life sciences sector in West Sussex has got high growth potential – we currently have more than 65 businesses located in the county.
“Boosting the economy is one of our key priorities as a county council and we are very supportive of businesses across the county. As part of our work on the health and life sciences sector we have been out there speaking directly to businesses about their plans for the future.
“Bringing everyone together into one room for the first time led to some exciting and honest discussion about how businesses see the sector growing in the coming years, the challenges they face and how we as a county council can help support expansion.”
The county council has already held conversations with around half the companies to understand their growth plans as well as the challenges to these plans.
Common issues centred around attracting the right workforce with the right skills, collaboration at a local level, infrastructure, and increasing commercialisation and trade opportunities.
Opportunities where WSCC might invest include a science and technology hub with shared laboratories, where small and start-up businesses could access facilities, and a cold chain storage facility at or near Gatwick Airport, where firms could rent out space to store pharmaceutical products.
Mrs Goldsmith added: “This is an exciting time for this high growth potential sector and for the County Council to spearhead new opportunities from which the economy and innovation can continue to grow and flourish.”
Several attendees made two-minute pitches to explain their businesses to the audience.
These included Crawley’s Elekta, Toshiba Medical Systems, also based in Crawley, Midhurst’s Hunt Developments, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which has a base in Worthing, and SnorBan, based near Chichester.
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