Minister meets life science and space businesses

Cabinet Minister Brandon Lewis, was in Leicester today (Thursday 18 October) visiting the University of Leicester and the National Space Centre, to see first hand how the region is at the cutting-edge of Life Science and Space research and innovation.

As part of the tour of the University, Mr Lewis joined a round table discussion on the opportunities for Life Sciences with senior representatives from the region as part of the government’s engagement with businesses ahead of Brexit. The Minister also had the opportunity to chat with EU students and staff.

The Minister also attended a further roundtable at the National Space Centre to discuss how the UK space industry is set to grow over the next decade. The Minister was given an update on the plans for Space Park Leicester - a partnership between the University of Leicester, Leicester City Council and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) - a global hub and collaborative community for businesses, researchers and academia based on space and space-enabled technologies.

At the end of his tour, he was also shown a model of the Mercury Imaging X-ray Spectrometer (MIXS) instrument, which will be aboard the BepiColombo mission, which blasts off to Mercury on Saturday 20 October. The instrument was partially developed and built in Leicester and the Principle Investigator is Professor Emma Bunce, who specialises in planetary science at the University. BepiColombo continues the University’s heritage in having an instrument in space every year for the past 50 years. The MIXS instrument will provide the first ever opportunity to get X-Ray images of Mercury.

The visit was a great success with the Minister genuinely impressed both with the debate, the opportunity for Life Sciences in the region and the vision of creating Leicester as the space city in the UK, benefiting the regional economy by an estimated £850 million and 2,500 jobs.

Cabinet Office Minister, Minister without Portfolio, Brandon Lewis said:

“Visiting the University of Leicester and touring the National Space Centre has been an excellent opportunity to see the innovative technology and life sciences that this region is developing - making the UK a truly world leading.

“Talking to students, academics and industry leaders, I discussed the Government’s vision for the broadest and deepest possible future partnership with the EU.  

“We are seeking to have a future relationship with the EU on space policy and our desire to continue participating in EU space programmes. This Government is committed to ensuring a positive outcome for the life sciences sector, enhancing competitiveness and building on the sectors many successes.”

President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester Professor Paul Boyle CBE said:

“We are pleased to welcome a Government Cabinet Minister to discuss the implications of Brexit on life sciences, the space sector and higher education. It is vital that the UK continues to attract excellent students and researchers from the EU and elsewhere, and that we maintain and grow our international research collaborations. The University is well positioned to contribute to his thinking on these important issues.  Our Life Science and Space research are world-leading and in both areas we have ambitious plans to build on our productive collaborations with industry. Hence, for meetings at the University and the National Space Centre, we have assembled panels of world-class academic thinkers and industry leaders to help shape the Minister’s views on the implications of Brexit.”