The UK needs 10 times more laboratory space just to meet current demand, and the life sciences sector is growing exponentially – a strong market opportunity for developers and investors. Aecom’s Alison Wring walks us through the factors influencing cost and design in this innovative sector
London is home to many world-leading scientific institutions, but laboratory space in the capital is at a growing premium. The so-called Knowledge Quarter – the compact enclave comprising King’s Cross, the Euston Road and Bloomsbury – is in particular demand, due to its high concentration of biomedical facilities such as the Francis Crick Institute and ongoing investment from the world-class research bodies situated there, ranging from UCL to the British Library and the Wellcome Trust.
But if the UK’s science capabilities and output are to continue to expand, more high-quality research space is needed. Former UK Research and Innovation chairman John Kingman has stated that for the UK government to achieve its goal of growing scientific research and development (R&D) to 2.4% of GDP from its present 1.7%, it requires the UK to lift total economy R&D from £37bn a year now to £68bn in 2027, with the scientific workforce also needing to increase by 50%. This could mean that an additional 240,000 researchers and technical staff are required across all research fields. A more modest requirement of 133,000 additional skilled scientific roles will be necessary to meet the government’s goal, according to the Life Sciences 2030 Skills Strategy.
While some institutions and developers are repurposing existing assets to house these workers, new-build facilities are also urgently called for.
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