Newcastle Helix’s specialist lab facility tailored to the commercialisation of life sciences has welcomed new tenants as the ecosystem of innovation continues to grow.

The Biosphere is a high-quality building with office space and both chemistry and biology laboratories available. The new tenants, Biosignatures and Cognassist, add to the already impressive number of innovative life sciences organisations in the facility.

AI biotechnology company, Biosignatures is one new face at The Biosphere having raised £3.5m in funding last year to develop its unique diagnostic technology. Its machine learning system aims to provide a cost-effective option in discovering, validating and translating new diagnostic tests.

Dr David Bramwell, Chief Technical Officer at Biosignatures, said: “We chose The Biosphere due to the great laboratory facilities, central location and high concentration of local biosciences organisations which bring opportunities for investment and collaboration. Having grown up in the North East, I also know that there is a large pool of high-quality individuals graduating at numerous excellent universities which make the area perfect for developing a stable business.”

Education technology pioneer Cognassist is another new company moving into The Biosphere as it extends its rapidly growing team. Cognassist has outgrown its old offices in South Tyneside and has recently moved into new premises in both Newcastle and London. Its unique neuroscience solution helps learners with cognitive learning needs succeed in their chosen field of study. Cognassist has an increasing client base of independent training providers and further education colleges, with over 50,000 learners accessing its digital learning library.

Chris Quickfall, CEO and Founder of Cognassist, commented: “I’m excited to be part of this regeneration of my hometown. As we expand and grow it’s vitally important that we continue to innovate as well as provide the quality of service and support our clients expect. The staff we’re recruiting are high calibre, as you’d expect, and we know we’ll develop and grow at the heart of the North East tech community.”

The Biosphere has also proven to be popular with university spin-outs. NewChem Technologies moved into the building last year after previously renting office and laboratory space at Newcastle University, where it continues to have close links with the School of Chemistry.

Offering a range of contract R&D services in organic chemistry for companies developing novel pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and other biotechnological products, NewChem Technologies was established in 2002. Managing Director, Dr Bob Tyson, commented: “The availability of new laboratories at The Biosphere has proved really beneficial for the company. Thanks to the additional space, we have been able to increase staff numbers by three during our first six months. The facilities are superb and have been much appreciated by our staff. Without exception, our customers have all been impressed with the location and facilities at The Biosphere.”

Cllr Ged Bell, Cabinet Member for Employment and Culture, Newcastle City Council, said: “The Biosphere is a place for new and growing life science businesses to thrive, bringing more opportunities and jobs not just within the sector but all those that service it. A huge welcome to Biosignatures, Cognassist and NewChem Technologies who are all now part of our growing Newcastle Helix community, where innovation and commercialisation are encouraged.”

The Biosphere is situated on Newcastle Helix, a £350m development that brings together a community of academics, industry leaders, businesses and top researchers to facilitate growth and innovation. The facility is now almost 50 per cent full, with NewChem Technologies, Biosignatures and Cognassist joining Jiahua, Northgene, MDNA, ExplantLab, Dermuris, Iksuda, Alcyomics, BiberChem, Newcells and Atelerix.

The Biosphere has secured significant funding through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the Government’s Local Growth Deal through the North East LEP. Both funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.