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The life sciences sector in the UK has the potential to become a world-leading hub for medicine development [1], provided that it can secure the infrastructure and talent that is required to compete on a global scale. At Build Space, we are heavily involved in some of the biggest infrastructure projects in this space, delivering the necessary skilled personnel to support construction firms such as Glencar, SISK, TSL Projects, ISG and Merit Holdings to create the office, warehousing and lab space that the life sciences industry needs in order to cement its position in the global market.

Why Life Sciences Is In Growth Mode

On the back of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK government is supporting the life sciences industry to fiercely pursue innovative new treatments for existing and potential diseases, and in particular, those that can also deliver financial benefit to the country's economy. 

It is anticipated that investment in life sciences could generate £68.1Bn in extra GDP over the next 30 years, whilst the sector could generate up to 7,230 additional jobs per year, whilst reducing the disease burden of the country by up to 40%. 

These are just some of the reasons why private equity investors are also keen to support the growth of the UK's life sciences sector. This wide-ranging support can help the industry to make great strides in the search for safer, more effective medicines, and the UK's construction industry is ideally placed to support them in their endeavours, with the provision of efficient, modern and hygienic premises from which to operate.

The Race For Space

Estate agent, Frank Knight, recently reported that investment by the life sciences sector in infrastructure in London, Cambridge and Oxford in Q1 of 2023 was at its highest rate since Q4 2021 [2]. With 283 new life sciences companies being formed in the UK in the same quarter, this rapid expansion by the sector is creating a scenario whereby demand could outstrip supply for office and Grade A lab space.

Knight Frank's assessment of the situation is that businesses with suitable space in the Golden Triangle should be incentivised to develop or repurpose that space to create fit-for-purpose lab and office space to support the continued growth of the life sciences sector.

Specific Requirements Of The Sector

Buildings intended for use by the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry are complex structures that must be capable of complete environmental control. This requires the firms that build or refit them to adhere to specific engineering and design standards, to ensure that each building is efficient to run and optimised to suit the needs of its occupants.

Pharmaceutical buildings often house hazardous materials, which must be safely contained, as well as specialist materials and equipment. The needs of the occupants must be central to the design of buildings intended for use by this sector and can significantly influence the layout and choice of materials used. 

Because there are specific considerations that are unique to pharmaceutical buildings, any construction firms operating in this sector need to demonstrate high levels of expertise and a deep understanding of the operational and regulatory requirements that apply.

Examples Of Life Science Infrastructure Projects

1. Moderna Innovation and Technology Centre. Glencar, a construction firm and one of our customers, has recently been commissioned to construct a new Moderna Innovation and Technology Centre in Oxfordshire, at the Harwell Health Technology Campus. Under the terms of the contract, Glencar will build and commission a modular clinical biomarker laboratory and a separate facility that will be used to research, develop and manufacture mRNA vaccines that will be used to treat respiratory diseases in the UK public, once they are approved and licenced. 

2. Bio Cork 2. John Sisk and Son have been contracted by pharmaceutical firm Janssen [4] to expand their facility in Co. Cork by nearly 20,000 square feet and to implement innovative new large-scale batch technology. The development will allow for additional warehouse, laboratory and office space, whilst the new technology will help Janssen (a subsidiary of leading healthcare brand Johnson & Johnson) to retain its place at the forefront of the sector.

3. Eisai New Packaging Hall Expansion. Delivered by TSL Projects on behalf of Eisai Co. Ltd, this infrastructure project has delivered an additional packaging facility at the company's site in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, which will be used for packaging potent compounds in accordance with Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency regulations.


If your firm needs specialist support to bid for or manage life sciences infrastructure projects, please contact Build Space today to find out how our range of talent solutions can support your business' growth plans.



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