Invest Newcastle has welcomed a senior Cuban life science business delegation to the region for a two-day visit. They used this opportunity to show off the city’s life science strengths and world-leading universities.

After meeting Matt Bratton, Senior Investment Manager from Invest Newcastle at a conference in London, businesses were keen to find out more about the UK’s life science sector as well as build academic and research partnerships.  Working closely with the Department of International Trade Havana, Invest Newcastle hosted a 2-day programme as part of a UK trip to Edinburgh, Newcastle and London. Representatives from the Department for International Trade in Havana and the UK also joined the delegation.

Guests included Dr Luis Hinojosa from the Centre of Molecular Immunology, Norkis Artega Morales, Head of Business Development from BioCubaFarma and Merardo Pujol from the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology who have identified several Cuban products suitable for the UK market, which are ready for clinical trials and commercialisation.

They were keen to understand the business environment and Invest Newcastle introduced them to life science assets and networks that could support them with their commercialisation journey.

The visit included meetings with WardHadaway for legal advice on entering the UK market, leading North East pharmaceutical companies, sector networks such as the Northern Health Science Alliance and Bionow, and the biomedical science departments from Newcastle, Northumbria and Durham universities.

Invest Newcastle gave them a tour of the Newcastle Helix, which is a £350m urban development scheme that combines commercial and residential space with world-class research and education facilities. 

Businesses also attended the official launch of The Biosphere, a brand-new lab facility on Newcastle Helix that is purpose-built to enable the commercialisation of life sciences.  At the event they were introduced to the business community, academics, funders and other key stakeholders from across the region.

Matt Bratton, Senior Investment Manager, Invest Newcastle said: “Our city has so many assets that support the commercialisation of life sciences and business growth, including the bespoke lab space and specialist facilities at The Biosphere, the innovative community on Newcastle Helix and leading facilities such as the International Centre for Life and the National Innovation Centre for Ageing. More than 200 life science and healthcare companies base themselves in the North East and we are confident more and more business will continue to join our £1.1 bn life science eco-system. As leaders in clinical trials, Newcastle has a growing reputation for research excellence - making it the perfect location to bring new products to market.   “We are so proud of our supportive business community and would like to thank everyone for the part they have played in welcoming our Cuban visitors to the region.”  


Alina Niebla, Head of International Trade and Investment, Department for International Trade (Havana) said: “As Cuban businesses increasingly look to new opportunities on the world stage, we’re thrilled that the United Kingdom is a target destination for trade and investment. Having worked with Invest Newcastle to facilitate this particular delegation, we are confident about the opportunities for trade and collaboration between the UK and Cuba in the life sciences sector, particularly in the Northern Powerhouse.

“DIT’s teams in Havana and the UK are ready to help British and Cuban businesses looking to trade, invest and collaborate, so please get in touch to see how we can help.” 

HM Trade Commissioner for Latin America and the Caribbean, Joanna Crellin, commented: “I’m delighted to see this Cuban delegation exploring the many opportunities the UK’s life sciences sector has to offer. A number of recent trade missions from the LATAC region to the UK have led to some brilliant trade and investment opportunities, and my teams across the region stand ready to assist wherever possible”.   

Newcastle is home to one of the UK’s largest NHS trusts which has been rated outstanding for the second year running, with more specialist services than any other group of hospitals outside London. It has built a global reputation as a UK hotspot for clinical trials and within an hour’s drive from the city centre, life sciences businesses have access to assets that support the entire bench to bedside pathway.

Photo caption:

L: R: Matt Bratton, Senior Investment Manager (Invest Newcastle), Jayne Pickersgill, International Trade Adviser (Department for International Trade - UK), Alina Niebla, Head of International Trade and Investment (Department for International Trade - Havana) with the Cuban life science business delegation on Newcastle Helix.




Media contact:


Kelly Gleadow, Communications and PR Manager, Invest Newcastle.

T: +44 (0)191 440 5776        

M: 07900000089             


Notes to editor

Invest Newcastle

Invest Newcastle is a service delivered by NewcastleGateshead Initiative on behalf of Newcastle, to attract and secure new investment and jobs for the city. They deliver a range of highly targeted activities and bespoke services to attract and support potential and existing investors.  Since it was established in 2013, it has supported more than 130 new businesses to relocate or expand, helping to create and safeguard more than 7,500 jobs.  @Tynetoinvest

Department for International Trade UK

The Department for International Trade (DIT) helps businesses export, drives inward and outward investment, negotiates market access and trade deals, and champions free trade.

We are an international economic department, responsible for: 

  • supporting and encouraging UK businesses to drive sustainable international growth
  • ensuring the UK remains a leading destination for international investment and maintains its number one position for international investment stock in Europe
  • opening markets, building a trade framework with new and existing partners which is free and fair
  • using trade and investment to underpin the government’s agenda for a Global Britain and its ambitions for prosperity, stability and security worldwide.


Latest statistics from the ONS show UK firms sold more overseas in the year to April 2019, £645.8 billion, than at any time since records began. The UK has now achieved 37 consecutive months of export growth on an annual rolling basis.

Separate OECD data shows UK exports grew faster than Germany, France and Italy between 2016 and 2018.

Department for International Trade – Havana

DIT in Havana offers professional and personalised assistance to drive UK businesses in Cuba. One of the main objectives of our team is to enhance the UK as a global player, promoting trade and investment and pursuing opportunities for UK companies in key sectors such as Life Sciences and Energy.