Providing Space for the Pioneers of Life Sciences
As a world-leading developer, owner and operator of mission critical real estate solutions for the life sciences and technology industries, we’re proud to have a strong presence in both Cambridge, MA, and Cambridge, UK.
In these vibrant ecosystems, the innovators and enterprising companies to whom we provide the necessary space to thrive, are in search of accelerating breakthroughs that seek to solve the biggest healthcare and bioscience challenges of our age. They need the right assortment of equipment, but also curated laboratory and office environments to succeed — and it is these ingredients which we offer to the hundreds of tenant partners across our trans-Atlantic portfolio.
Being active in both Cambridge geographies makes it easy to realise that these two cities share much more than a name. On either side of the pond, both globally significant innovation clusters are underpinned by a similar ‘triple helix’ of academic research, government investment and private enterprise. Because innovation happens in proximity, not in isolation, life sciences hubs thrive by having access to a large talent pool, nearby academic and research institutions and close proximity to venture capital and other investors. The UK life sciences ecosystem not only has these key elements, but is also fueled by the growth in tenant demand underpinned by funding into the sector – whether that comes from government funding, venture capital funding or the IPO market. That keeps capital in to develop and incubate the density necessary to sustain knowledge-intensive ecosystems.
Previously, therapies were commercialised in vertical organisational structures that occupied independent spaces throughout these regions.
Now, with remarkable progress in science technology, better access to capital, and strong support from the government, life science users are seeking ways to optimise time and capital efficiency. They do this by clustering in areas that offer proximity to peers, support and optionality for growth. That is why all our locations are anchored by strong academic and research institutions, deep talent pools and a wealth of capital providers and thriving commercial life science and technology companies.
The pace of innovation and speed at which life science companies are hitting critical research milestones has increased. This more streamlined pathway is driven by advancements in technology, greater cohesion of clusters, and the intersection between big data and research. We can now analyse and draw conclusions from the data at a more rapid pace, driving the pace of innovation.
As a Blackstone portfolio company, BioMed Realty benefits from access to proprietary information and data through Blackstone Data Science and Blackstone Life Sciences.
The need for more lab and office space has never been so pressing in the UK as it is today: for the past few years, the life sciences industry in the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and the Golden Triangle more broadly has witnessed increased levels of funding, which has rightly been described as a ‘boom.’ Yet the lag from the funding dates to the tenant leasing/occupancy of the life science real estate means the industry has yet to experience the impact of the positive industry fundamentals on the life science real estate sector – a growth catalyst that could be unleased in globally important innovation clusters like the Arc.
Of the 13.7 million square feet of research and workspace we own and operate in the UK and US, approximately one million square feet is in Cambridge, UK. This space is all fully leased, having recently welcomed two pioneering companies – Altos Labs and Bicycle Therapeutics – to our recently renovated Portway building at Granta Park, one of the largest purpose-built life sciences developments in the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and home to over 30 of the world’s largest life sciences companies and research organisations, including Pfizer, Illumina and Cancer Research UK. This represents a formidable cluster of collaboration and innovation that employs more than 3,700 people.
Market data we've followed also shows that heightened activity levels have driven down availability rates for office and lab space in Cambridge to a low of 2.2 percent. This risks potentially locking out promising start-ups and scale-ups. If the ‘triple helix’ is the lifeblood that fuels life-saving research and innovation, then it is our responsibility to create spaces which house and nurture the innovators aiming to break new ground. This means providing more than just work and research space. Occupiers want amenities that activate culture, health and the exchange of ideas.
In addition to the 13.7 million square feet of operational space, BioMed maintains a premier development platform with 3.5 million square feet of Class A properties in active construction. To extend the runway of supply for the burgeoning life science sector globally, we’re also actively looking for ways to continue expanding this pipeline in all our key markets — including the UK — as represented by last year’s announcement that we intend to nearly double the size of our portfolio in Cambridge.
Our planned £850 million investment to create approximately 800,000 square feet was welcomed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who called it “hugely welcome news” and added that he was “confident that the support of Blackstone’s BioMed Realty will mean there are many more [great scientific discoveries] to come.”
Our best-in-class portfolio, market-leading platform and growing pipeline allows us to meet rapidly increasing demand in the UK and Oxford-Cambridge Arc specifically.
The UK life sciences industry is world-leading and life-saving, as the Oxford University and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated. The UK has consistently had strong government funding into the sector, with UK government spending on healthcare and R+D the highest in Europe and second in the world.
But it is not only the convergence of academic ties, government support and private investment that life sciences companies need. The pandemic has shown that some industries can operate successfully with remote workers, but essential lab work for drug discovery cannot be done from home. It requires highly specialised research and workspace. Having the right building in the right location is just as important as having the right talent.