Building the Right Environment for Life Science Companies


Tony Jones, CEO and Richard Dickinson, Chief Technical Specialist, One Nucleus

The path from ideation to patient benefit in bio-innovation can be a long and winding route involving a myriad of people, institutions and companies. It's not a journey for the faint-hearted as one might suggest when it’s possible to take so many wrong turns or simply be outdone by nature, yet we see progress year on year against many disorders, so it’s as well that the life sciences industry is packed with brave-hearts rather than faint-hearts. The curiosity, passion, optimism and resilience among bio-innovators are second to none since they are driven from a place of wanting to make people's lives better. It falls to enablers surrounding the innovators and entrepreneurs to match their passion for good by delivering environments that stimulate and support them to do their best.

Innovating with your Neighbours:

People at workInnovation is a contact sport and creating locations where those with complementary insights, knowledge and mind-sets are attracted to gather is fundamental to the collective success. As far back as 1998, Michael E Porter published what many consider to be a seminal paper entitled ‘Clusters and the New Economics of Competition’ in the Harvard Business Review. Everyone’s ability to source knowledge, funding, goods, and innovative technology from around the world has certainly not slowed in the intervening decades, yet we still see innovators, innovative companies and entrepreneurs choosing to gather in hotspots in order to network with their peers, meet suitable business partners and grow. The element that falls to the real estate designers and developers is to provide the best possible facilities and work-life conurbations to attract and retain the best people.

Cambridge has long been an exemplar of what it takes to attract world-class scientists, entrepreneurs and investors that together fuel a healthy pipeline of start-up companies focussed on therapeutics discovery, R&D platforms, diagnostics, health technologies and digital health. This has in turn placed pressure on the demand for various types of accommodation. The provision of first-class laboratory facilities, that are space, power, water and capital hungry to deliver at scale or speculatively. Cambridge has excelled in this arena however and that is reflected in the rate of growth of laboratory space provision to date and planned for the near future.

Finding and Running the Right Lab Space with One Nucleus:

A building with many windowsDescription automatically generatedOne Nucleus, led by Chief Technical Specialist Richard Dickinson working with high-quality partners, supports its members in identifying potential laboratory space; evaluating its suitability and adaptability to the company’s requirements; lease negotiation and due diligence; lab design and fit-out and on-going facilities management. Richard has worked on buildings located on nearly every science park in the region, including Babraham Research Campus, Unity Campus, Cambridge Science Park, Chesterford Research Park and more. More recently, that advice provision has spread to Oxford and London locations. There is a wealth of expertise across various sizes, types and location of laboratory space that One Nucleus members can tap into at reduced rates as they work for the best solutions and rates with landlords. Some examples of Richard’s work include recent projects with ViaNautis in their move to the Cadence Building at Unity Campus, T-Therapeutics at One Granta, Granta Park and Mosaic Therapeutics at Building 960, Babraham Research Campus.

Lessons from Afar:

Aerial view of a large campusDescription automatically generated with medium confidenceNoticeable among the on-going development of the Cambridge laboratory stock is the increasing role being played by multinational real estate developers. Most notably perhaps is the contribution of BioMed Realty (BMR) which has invested for over a decade now in the cluster, supporting the evolution of the offering that ensures Cambridge remains a destination for growing life science businesses. BMR is complemented by other international developers such as IQHQ, Kadans and Breakthrough Properties who likewise see Cambridge as an important part of their respective portfolios. These developers bring a wealth of expertise and learning from other successful locations such as Boston and San Diego, enabling best practice, connectivity and design so pivotal to local life science companies’ success. With Pioneer Group, Bruntwood and others adding further to the list, they also bring some emphasis to the incubation and investment strategies in their tenant portfolio, helping to scale the UK sector and hence their occupier pipeline in line with their facility pipeline.

Right Labs, Right Neighbours, Right Support:

In summary, the Cambridge cluster thrives because of the excellent ecosystem that nurtures innovation, attracts world-leading talent and attracts investment. This is in no small part due to:

  • Providers such as BMR delivering high-quality lab space suitable for all sizes of company, creating a dynamic whereby large companies continually learn from smaller ones and vice versa.
  • The diverse mix within the region across multiple disciplines leads to a Medici Effect driving innovation by those that do not necessarily accept the current dogma.
  • Excellent support from One Nucleus for companies to ensure they get the best available fit and operational models for their laboratories based upon decades of experience.

A close-up of a computer screenDescription automatically generatedFor more information about the support available from One Nucleus when it comes to finding and running a lab, please visit the web site where you will find details of the Purchasing Scheme, Training, Facilities Management and Lab Space directory.