Removing the BioMedTech real estate roadblocks


The race for space is real for fast-growing life science and R&D companies. Availability of lab-enabled buildings in Cambridge is at an historic low with most facilities either occupied or under offer.

Science and tech companies not only need to have visibility on their future occupational requirements, but also have to be focussed and nimble to secure the space required to expand when competing against other pioneering scale-ups, scientists, and research centres all looking to grow at pace.

In response to soaring market demand for agile lab enabled buildings, property investor and developer Howard Group has implemented a two-phased approach to address both the pressing current shortage and building for the future. 

Repurposing buildings for science use
Tackling the more immediate demand for new science facilities in the region, Howard Group recently repurposed space in a pre-cast concrete-framed industrial unit at its Unity Campus development. The building - now known as The Works - incorporates bespoke lab space for a number of major players in the Cambridge life sciences cluster.

In undertaking this transformation from a dilapidated industrial unit to a modern, engaging environment flooded with natural light, Howard Group has created a thriving science and technology community at The Works - which is now home to UK biotechnology organisations such as IONTAS and PhoreMost, as well as a number of innovative technology and communications businesses. The reuse of the concrete frame has also retained the building’s industrial heritage as well as saving 1900 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Katherine Friend, Director – Investment & Asset Management, Howard Group, said: “The slightly disruptive and playful design of The Works appealed to a new generation of scientists who have historically had to work in fairly bland and utilitarian facilities. We were able to work with PhoreMost and IONTAS on creative solutions to design space which met each of their specific needs.  

“We have learnt a huge amount about what life sciences occupiers require and were excited by the challenge of creatively modifying the space and playing our part to support innovation and growth in one of the most important research ecosystems in the UK.”

Building the next big opportunity
The Works sits within Howard Group’s high-specification technology and innovation park, Unity Campus, which is located in south Cambridge. The Campus already accommodates life science companies such as Aqdot, Liminal Bioscience and Sareum, and looks set to attract further fast-growing ventures with the second phase of development on site - three new science buildings.

The stark lack of lab space set against phenomenal demand has meant that Howard Group’s plans for 95,000 sq ft of new high-quality accommodation for life science occupiers, are coming to fruition at an ideal time.

Subject to planning, it is anticipated that Phase 2 of Unity Campus will be available from Q1 2023, with units from 10,000 sq ft now available for pre-let. Each building will consist of ground, first and second floor office and laboratory accommodation, with landlord plant provision above. A key benefit for potential occupiers, at this stage, is the ability to input into the design process and create a truly fit for purpose environment.

Much more than bricks and mortar
Today’s occupiers want more than just a building. The future workplace is all about collaborative spaces, wellbeing and focused on the needs of its users.

In line with Howard Group’s commitment to creating places which enhance the lives of those who live and work in and around them, the Howard Group team is now also turning its attention to developing a Unity Campus-wide community engagement programme, which will include social, health & wellbeing, business support and external community engagement.

Building on the success of the first phase of the development the focus across 2022 will include further developing the Campus vision, and building relationships, networks and awareness across the life science and wider commercial property sector communities at both a regional and national level.

Howard Group welcomes enquiries from potential Phase 2 occupiers wishing to engage at this early stage to enable bespoke requirements to be taken into account.

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Contact Us

Howard Group
93 Regent Street
01223 312 910