Helix has become a science hotspot. Credit: Gary Bell, Elemental Photography

UKREiiF | Newcastle seeks partner for life sciences push

The city is looking for an investor to accelerate the growth of North East England’s £1.7bn life science eco-system by furthering lab space at the Helix development.

Dedicated to the commercialisation of life sciences and based on Newcastle Helix, The Biosphere launched in 2018 as a publicly funded project and is now home to more than 20 businesses.

Demand for commercial lab and office space at The Biosphere means Newcastle City Council, with the support of Invest Newcastle are looking to appoint a partner with an ambition to expand and enhance the lab offering in the city and to ensure existing and future occupiers can continue to thrive and grow.

Any investor would have the option of acquiring the existing income-producing 90,057 sq ft lab facility known as The Biosphere and the option of drawing down three potential further development plots on Newcastle Helix, totalling 1.7 acres of brownfield sites.

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership has provided funding for Newcastle City Council to support this investment opportunity.

The project is one of the cornerstone schemes being promoted by the North East delegation at UKREiiF, where the Invest Newcastle pavilion played host to a series of busy events on day one of the conference.

Jen Hartley, director at Invest Newcastle, which is part of Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be part of Newcastle’s life science eco-system, right in the heart of our city centre and £1.7bn eco-system, supporting us to meet the growing demand we are seeing from spinouts, start-up, and global brands.

“There is already huge interest in Newcastle as a leading UK location in which to invest, develop or locate a life science business and securing a private sector investment will be critical to the growth of the sector and building on our reputation globally as a UK hotspot for the commercialisation of life sciences.”

Newcastle City Council is being advised by property consultancy JLL. The firms’s head of UK life sciences Chris Walters said: “Newcastle is a proven hotspot of innovation with multi-faceted collaboration between public and private stakeholders. Building on the success of The Biosphere, this unique investment opportunity will enable the delivery of much needed commercial lab space to a burgeoning cluster in the North East ”

There are around 130 life science companies located in the city, employing more than 4,000 people and raising £256m in investment between 2017-2022, Invest Newcastle said.

Newcastle University is ranked as the fourth best university in the UK at producing life science spin outs outside the Golden Triangle, with 90% of these spinouts still based in Newcastle and 65% located within the eco-system on Newcastle Helix.

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