A HUB for the research and development of new drugs and technologies could be built at the £350 million Grange University Hospital near Cwmbran.

The Welsh Government and Torfaen council are preparing to spend £110,000 on an outline business case for the bespoke ‘medi-park’ at Llanfrechfa.

A council report says the park would create a life sciences cluster – a first for south east Wales – allowing scientists and businesses to work together in one space.

Life sciences is a £2 billion industry in Wales, with 360 companies employing around 12,000 people across the country.

“It is a global market with products designed in a laboratory or university which one day may be sold and used worldwide,” the report adds.

“The opportunities posed by the sector are endless and some are unimaginable to the lay person.

“The people working within this industry really do have the potential to transform people’s lives on an individual basis and transform society as a whole.”

Torfaen council say the Grange University Hospital is an ideal location for the medi-park given its proximity to Cardiff University, which is aligned to the hospital.

The 471-bed facility, which is due to open in Spring 2021, will deal with major emergencies while treating and caring for patients needing complex, specialist or critical care.

The report says: “Cardiff University are at the forefront within Wales, aligning academia, research, innovation and business.

“We want to place the park within this context, to build on the successes of existing strategies within the region and allow the sector to have the much-needed space it requires to grow and develop.”

Work is now due to start on the proposed business case, which will assess the scheme’s financial and commercial viability.

Councillor Anthony Hunt, leader of Torfaen council, is expected to approve the use of £50,000 from reserves towards the proposals next week, with the Welsh Government already contributing £60,000.

The report continues: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and all indications are that the market is needing a purpose-built park to suit their long-term aspirations for development and growth.

“With this development and growth comes the creation of well-paid, highly skilled jobs which will help with the regeneration of Torfaen which is so desperately needed.”

A strategic board has also been established with representation from the council, Welsh Government, Cardiff University and the University of South Wales.

The board will be chaired by Judith Paget, chief executive of Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.