In the first of our Life Science series, we take a summary look at the sector and London’s role in supporting several innovation clusters at differing stages of maturity. This series will explore what’s next for Life Sciences and the property sector that underpins it.
The UK is fast becoming one of the leading hubs for Life Sciences on the global stage, with the industry generating over £80 billion in turnover.
Historically, much of the sector, and therefore its building stock, has been based at business and science parks in the OxCam Arc. However, London is now establishing itself as the dominant regional hub in the UK with OxCam struggling to retain and attract talent flowing from the domestic and global pool as a result.
London offers the co-location of the key ingredients necessary: world-class universities and higher education alongside established healthcare and clinical research institutions, excellent infrastructure, innovative workforce and dynamic lifestyle offer all wrapped up by the trappings of a world city.
What makes a successful cluster
Within London itself, this co-location has led to established self-sustaining clusters that have catalysed sector growth in the capital including:
- Kings Cross Knowledge Quarter;
- White City Innovation District; and
- Whitechapel Life Sciences Hub.
There are also emerging clusters in London Bridge (SC1) associated with Guy’s and St Thomas and Paddington, associated with the St Mary’s Hospital redevelopment site both of which have clear potential.
Our eco-system health-check table shows that each of these locations consistently include almost all the elements necessary in sustaining and growing a successful Life Science cluster:
- A healthcare provider anchor
- A university / academia anchor
- Researchers and major private companies
- Entrepreneurial private sector innovators and
- Life science real estate pipeline
As a result there is critical mass allowing collaboration between innovators, clinicians, researchers, investors and developers pushing forward new thinking and ways of working.
Opportunities in new areas
Interestingly, the extent of demand for space in London is so acute that major developments are coming forward outside of these established and emerging clusters.
With Crossrail operational and in the context of limited supply of space within cluster areas, some bullish investors see strong transport links as the key to unlocking other ‘outlier’ locations across the capital. In Canary Wharf for example, Europe’s largest commercial lab building (800,000 sq ft) is to be delivered by Canary Wharf Group and Kadans at North Quay next to the Elizabeth Line station, having obtained planning permission from the LB Tower Hamlets in March 2022.
Will Crossrail unlock other ‘outlier’ locations across the Capital outside of the established clusters? Is Canary Wharf an indicator that the chronic lack of space means occupiers are willing to overlook the colocation benefits a cluster provides, and the competitive advantage it can afford ?
At the same time, other factors are also coming into play creating additional opportunities for the sector across London. Over the coming weeks we will look at these areas in more detail as well as the challenges that need to be overcome to deliver new space for this important sector.