Roundtable: The race for space in the UK’s life sciences sector
“If you think about the fundamentals of what’s driving the sector - we’re in a golden age of scientific discovery, aren’t we? All these new technologies all coming together, AI speeding up drug discovery, ageing populations, increased government spending on healthcare. That is what is behind all of this and, ultimately, that train is a juggernaut. It is never going to stop,” said Tom Mellows, head of UK Science at Savills, during Shoosmiths’ recent roundtable examining the life sciences sector.
Held at the firm’s London studio, the roundtable followed the government revealing a £650m war-chest to 'fire up’ the sector, record numbers of life science company incorporations and Savills reporting the highest level of take-up for purpose-built lab space in the Golden Triangle in H1 2023.
Despite defying economic uncertainty, there is a threat to the sector - a systemic shortage of space. This is particularly exacerbated in the Golden Triangle, with occupier demand often outstripping supply and vacancy rates for available fitted laboratory space reaching lows of 1% in some locations.
So, in the sector’s race for space, how is the real estate industry responding?
Bringing together leading developers, agents, operators, design specialists, as well as policy and legal experts, Shoosmiths hosted a roundtable discussion on meeting the real estate demands of the UK’s life sciences sector, with key focuses including the urbanisation of labs, planning policy reform and the pros and cons of new development vs repurposing buildings.
MSCI also provided an in-depth briefing on investment flows into UK life sciences real estate assets.
Taking part in the discussion
- Antara Woodring, vice president, life sciences (Europe) at Oxford Properties Group
- Richard Watson, project management team for The Island Quarter (Nottingham)
- Tom Mellows, head of UK Science at Savills – occupier representation, development, leasing
- Mark Corea, policy officer at the British Property Federation
- Luke Pakes, vice president at MSCI
- Suraj Sangani, senior associate at MSCI
- Liam Grover, director of the Healthcare Technologies Institute
- Ryan Matenchuk, managing director at Galileo Labs
- Anu Sabherwal, senior associate and sustainable design lead at NBBJ Design
- Ania Vernon, corporate legal director at Shoosmiths
- Matthew Nixon, planning specialist and legal director at Shoosmiths
- Chair: Darren Cleveland, head of divisional BD (real estate) at Shoosmiths
All information correct at the time of filming.
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