Wales is serious about its development of a vibrant Life Sciences industry. ReNeuron is one of the pioneers in the field, focusing on developing new stem cell therapies from its head office and laboratories near Bridgend in South Wales.
South Wales has become the home of a pioneering medical group. ReNeuron is a stem cell research company working on treatments for people suffering from brain damage, diseases of the eye which cause blindness and other conditions. Chief Financial Officer Michael Hunt says the chance to move to Wales was too good to miss.
“The funding environment was particularly challenging a few years ago. We put together a financing package, which involved relocating to South Wales, and the Welsh Government made a very significant commitment to us regarding our relocation plans.
“The process was remarkably straightforward. It happened very quickly and we were immensely grateful for that. It ended up being the catalyst for a total fund raise, realising a total grant and equity financing of around £33 million in 2013, which was a lot for a business of our size and stage of development. It set us on our way and here we are three years later, having moved into that facility.
“It’s enabled us to do a lot more things and raise an even larger sum of money off the back of that investment. Having come from a position of being relatively cash-starved, we now have substantial funds in the bank and a much broader range of opportunities. As we’ve gone forward we’ve found that Wales can offer the ability to hire good people out of good universities. Getting on for half the workforce are actually Welsh now. We’ve already been successful at hiring highly skilled scientific staff. We have a number of links with Cardiff University, including a studentship arrangement and a researcher who will sit on our scientific advisory board.
“We find it great working with the Welsh Government. It’s easier to get heard and get access to the decision makers at the highest levels – that’s really served us well from the very start. Things happen quickly and of course we’ve maintained those links as we’ve gone forward.
“We’re active users of the Life Sciences Hub Wales because we needed access to accommodation while our facility was being built, so that’s gone really well for us. As Wales builds out its life science infrastructure we would expect that to be much more significant and we’re glad to be a part of it.
“It’s worked well for us. There is a sense that Wales is trying to do something very significant here in the life science sector. As one of the anchor tenants, we’re very happy to be one of the pioneers in making it happen.”