Scientists of the future take first step to career success at Discovery Park

Discovery Park has delivered much success for East Kent in the three years since it took over the site, continuing the scientific expertise that has been part of the site’s history for decades,

With 2,300 jobs and 125 firms – there were five originally – it has put Sandwich in the same league as Oxford and Cambridge for scientific excellence but that is only half the story.

Europe’s leading science and technology park has also built a reputation for education, with East Kent College, the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University, all site tenants, providing students – from school age to PhD – with the opportunity for invaluable industry experience.

Kimberley Anderson, Corporate Relations Manager, said: “Education is such a vital part of what we do at Discovery Park. From the start it has been our mission to open up the amazing facilities on this site to children and young adults to encourage a love of science.

 “What has been so great to see is the enthusiasm and passion that so many of our tenants – including the likes of Genea Biomedx, Pfizer and Mylan – have put into creating opportunities for the scientists of tomorrow.”

A lot of hard work goes on throughout the year to support local schools, alongside organisations such as the STEM Network, to encourage that love of science, including on site tenants supported events like the annual Science Jam.

And it’s not the only area where businesses – big and small – are getting involved.  Over the past three years, more than 30 young people have taken their first step on the career ladder by taking up an apprenticeship.

Pioneering research business Agalimmune has recently hired 18-year old Amber Charlemagne, as its first apprentice, supporting the work of scientists exploring revolutionary new treatments for cancer.

The rugby mad teenager – she played on the wing for Essex - will be working towards a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Applied Science with East Kent College and a Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Laboratory and Associated Technical Activities over the next two years.

Steve Shaw, Associate Research Director, with Agalimmune, said: “During the apprenticeship Amber will be trained in a wide range of modern drug discovery techniques.

“Amber will support Agalimmune scientists, but will also perform her own experiments. After two years she will be experienced in a range of technical and management skills that will put her in good stead for a future career in science.”

Amber’s week is made up of four days in the laboratory at Discovery Park and one day study at East Kent College.  She is loving the experience so far and hopes it leads to a full time career.

She said: “I’ve always had a passion for science, especially biology but was put off going to university because of the costs of taking a degree. I didn’t want to be in thousands of pounds of debt.

“When I saw this apprenticeship advertised, I thought: ‘That’s for me’.  I get hands on experience in a real laboratory and get to learn at the same time.  Discovery Park is also an amazing place to work too. It’s got everything here.

“I hope that there will be an opportunity to stay with Agalimmune once the apprenticeship is completed.  It’s a small team and I am getting to learn so much already. This is a great opportunity for me and I’m determined to make the most of my time here.”

Posted on 29/10/2015