CDT students visit Alderley Science Park
On 16th April 2019 the year 1 cohort visited Alderley Science Park in Cheshire, one of the leading science and technology park operators in Europe.
Alderley Park offers exceptional bioscience facilities for R&D focussed on life science companies, from start-up to global corporate, and provides state of the art chemistry, biology and pathology labs; dedicated incubator facilities; and a range of shared scientific services – the ideal place to support pioneering research and innovation.
The theme for this visit was to see how these companies operate and develop their research. There were talks by the park managing director, site tours, opportunities to meet and speak with some of the leading research companies based there, as well as an in-depth workshop with one company in particular, EM Analytical.
Year 1 CDT students Atta Arshad and David Sanderson described their experience of the visit:
'As a new PhD student, I found the trip to Alderley Science Park insightful into career pathways and opportunities after a PhD, outside of the standard routes in academia. Our time was hosted by EM Resist/EM analytical – specialists in electron resists and analytical characterisation services. It was interesting to see how my skills as a biology focused PhD could be applied to other aspects of industry such as optical and electron microscopy, where it is used in stress and fracture analysis, one of the highlight activities of the day. It was also useful to spend time speaking with companies based at the science park and the work they do. It was beneficial to understand how their work relates to nanotechnology and toxicology. Overall I found the trip enjoyable and informative, and the facilities, working environment, and people at Alderley Park were friendly, professional, and inspiring.'
'It's been a few years since coming here to visit AstraZeneca and the transformation of the park, aesthetically, is pretty striking. It's clear the amount of investment that has gone in and in the initial welcome I was interested to learn that AstraZeneca had set aside a huge sum for development of the site into a science park. The facilities are attractive, modern in appearance and the conference centre has the feel of a cinema; really high end. Our host for the day was EM Analytical, which provides laboratory services to many commercial sectors. During the day we were walked through a couple of case studies; (i) transmission electron microscopy (TEM) of cells encapsulated in resin and sliced into sections thin enough for TEM and (ii) a forensic examination of a broken turbine blade using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDX). It was interesting to see how these techniques are used on a consultancy basis. Given my background, I asked about charging, contract types, quality assurance etc and was surprised how economical the costs can be given the overheads of a science park and the capital investment in the equipment being used. The visit demonstrated to me that the Alderley site was an attractive place to set up, incubate, and scale a business. Interestingly, the science park itself is still far from full capacity and so it is heavily vested in facilitating the setting up and growth of hi-tech start-ups.'