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Why is the North East a hotbed for health and life sciences?

Rebecca Crow, Senior Inward Investment Manager at Invest Newcastle (part of NewcastleGateshead Initiative) works to coordinate and build the vibrant health and life science ecosystem across Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland.  

With ten years’ experience in clinical research at Newcastle University, Becky is working to bridging the gap between innovators and investors to better realise the economic potential of the sector. 

Caroline Reed, Senior Manager of Business Events at NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI) has worked in the business event sector for 8 years and works to attract national and international events to the region. 

We spoke to Becky and Caroline about why Newcastle and the wider North East region is the go-to place for the health and life science sector and events and conferences surrounding the industry. 

Becky, what is the health and life science sector like in the North East? 

“From developing ground-breaking medicines and treatments to building partnerships with global brands such as Pfizer and Roche, Newcastle is home to a thriving health and life sciences cluster.  

“The 200+ businesses operating in this space employ 8,000 people and generate £1.7bn in turnover, but more than that, they work at the cutting edge of scientific progress, developing clinical solutions that are improving outcomes for patients and investors alike.  

“The strength of Newcastle’s health and life sciences sector is underpinned by the work of its two universities, Newcastle and Northumbria, and the twice CQC outstanding-rated Newcastle Hospitals trust, who work together to deliver pioneering research in a range of healthcare settings.  

“This spirit of collaboration is something that can be found right across the region, with hubs like the UK National Innovation Centre for Ageing and North East Innovation Lab contributing to a dynamic knowledge economy capable of leveraging investment and support from public and private sector partners.  

“Not only does the region house expert networks, academia and health and life science research facilities, but it also has a wealth of conferencing venues right at the heart of this booming industry.” 

Caroline, can you tell us more about these venues? 

“Newcastle Helix is a 24-acre hybrid city quarter is specifically built for international tech and science innovation and home to the UK’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing and the National Innovation Centre for Data. 

“Bringing together industry leaders, businesses and top researchers, the Helix boasts excellent facilities at the heart of Newcastle city centre, positioning the site as an impressive location for hosting a conference. 

“The Frederick Douglass Centre, situated on the Helix site, is a £35m learning and teaching centre and is named in honour of the 19th century social reformer and abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, who was himself an escaped slave. 

“The purpose-built educational space comprises a multi-purpose 750-seater auditorium, which can split into a 500 and 250-seater lecture theatre, an open plan atrium and 170-seater collaborative lecture theatre. 

“The building also has plentiful seminar rooms with two 30-seater, two 45-seater and two 60-seater rooms and several social spaces throughout. 

“Both Newcastle and Northumbria University boast a city centre campus right at the heart of some of the most exciting research and academia in the UK, with great venues for conferences, meetings and events.  

“Northumbria University has a diverse range of spaces ranging from its 3,000 capacity Sport Central Arena to areas for a more intimate setting such as the 18th century Great Hall. 

“Newcastle University campus combines a historic setting with modern amenities, comprising of historic settings such as its Grade ll listed King’s Hall which seats up to 500 guests, as well as contemporary spaces including the Boiler House, which is flat-floored space accommodating more than 200 people.”  

What is the benefit of hosting a health and life science conference in a destination with strengths in the sector? 


“The health and life science sector in Newcastle is so rich, the benefits of holding such a conference or event here are unparalleled. We have some of the world’s leading academia and talent here, and by bringing health and life science delegates to the city, there is the possibility to tap into that knowledge base and share best practice in a vibrant and unique setting.” 


“As well as enabling collaborations with leading academics and researchers, gathering industry and experts in the field here also brings the opportunity for our national and international guests to see first-hand our cutting-edge facilities and innovative ecosystem.  

“Therefore, holding a health and life science conference here in the North East, one of the most exciting regions in the UK, could well act as a catalyst to further build our cluster.” 

If you’re interested in finding out more about health and life sciences in Newcastle, contact Rebecca at 

If you’re part of an association in the health and life sciences industry and want to find out more about hosting a conference within the North East, contact Caroline at  

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