Nestled within picturesque countryside in the heart of Oxfordshire is the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus. Formerly a research facility for atomic energy, today it is a hub of scientific and academic innovation. Home to over 6,000 people, including researchers, scientists and entrepreneurs, it is a leading force in the UK's life sciences industry.
A recent surge in major construction projects is propelling Harwell to new heights, delivering a range of additional state-of-the-art research facilities, laboratories and infrastructure. It is hoped that these new facilities will support the UK's scientists to accelerate advancements in biotechnology, healthcare and pharmaceuticals.
Recent construction projects at the Harwell site include:
1. Moderna's Innovation and Technology Centre. This facility, which began construction in April 2023, will be used for the research, development and manufacture of mRNA vaccines aimed at protecting the public from respiratory conditions and diseases and preventing a repeat of 2020's COVID-19 global lockdowns. Glencar and Merit are both doing some great work on this scheme.
2. Willmott Dixon's Central Laser Facility. This facility will cover a broad spectrum of uses, from high intensity laser systems to ultra-fast sources and laser microscopy techniques. The facility will be used for medical purposes, developing cancer cell therapies as well as for scientific study into subatomic particles, chemical reactions and biochemical processes.
3. Bidwells Quad One. Having recently delivered comprehensively refurbished Grade A office suites and lab space for use by businesses at Harwell Campus, Bidwells have been commissioned to deliver a further 12 projects, including new builds, refurbishments and infrastructure projects. SDC have competed quad one and are now moving on to quad 2.
4. Tech Foundry and Linear Accelerator Building. This £300M project will be funded by a joint venture between Brookfield, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and will see the creation of an additional 440,000 square feet of new Laboratory and R&D buildings.
Why Harwell matters
Harwell Science and Innovation Campus is fundamental to the success of the UK in developing and delivering life saving vaccines and treatments for medical conditions; for accelerating scientific and technological discoveries; and for bolstering the UK's economy.
The boom in construction activity at the site signals the UK's commitment to innovation, which is likely to entice investment from domestic and international investors in the life sciences sector. This increased confidence and the new facilities delivered by the ongoing construction activity at the site will foster an environment in which ideas can flourish, innovations can be pursued, and the UK's economy advanced through the development of new products and technologies.
This activity is also great news for the construction industry and, in particular, those looking to recruit. Major infrastructure projects such as these require a wide range of skill sets, from labourers through to architects and engineers, project managers and quality control staff. Offering the opportunity to work on high profile projects such as these represents a compelling route to enticing high quality talent to a business.
Projects such as these offer construction workers the opportunity to hone their skills on complex and technologically advanced projects and to gain exposure to cutting-edge techniques. By enhancing the capabilities of its workforce, a construction company not only raises its profile, but solidifies its reputation and increases its competitive standing.
Many of the projects underway or delivered at Harwell are prioritising sustainability, and the construction companies that are contracted to deliver have been challenged to adopt environmentally-conscious practices and methodologies. This aligns both with the government's carbon reduction targets as well as Harwell's vision of being a catalyst for sustainable growth.
A significant element of Harwell's commitment to sustainability relates to its zero-landfill commitment. In this, it pledges to divert over 90% of the waste accrued during the construction process to be recycled or recovered for purposes other than energy generation.
Harwell may be a science and innovation hub by name, but in practice, it is a catalyst for economic growth, and the construction projects that are underway at the site will be instrumental in shaping the UK's future as a science and technology superpower. Not only will the ongoing construction activity deliver jobs, but it will also help technology and biotech firms to secure investment, pursue discoveries and create a sustainable future not only for the UK but for the planet.