Integrated drug discovery CRO Domainex first moved into Howard Group’s Unity Campus innovation district in January 2022, taking 7,000 sq ft of laboratory space to provide a dedicated facility for its biology department.
Since then, the multi award-winning company has achieved record UK revenues and seen a 50% growth in headcount in the last 12 months.
Long recognised as one of the UK’s foremost providers of drug discovery services, Domainex has ambitious plans to build further upon this success and double its revenue over the next three years.
To accommodate this year’s impressive performance and to enable future growth, Domainex needed to significantly increase its real estate footprint.
The company is now expanding its facilities by leasing one of three new fully fitted laboratory buildings at Unity Campus. The state-of-the-art 24,000 sq ft three-storey Building A2 (Sigma Building), designed to facilitate a 60/40 wet lab/office split, is on track to achieve BREEAM ‘Excellent’, an EPC rating of ‘B’ and will be WELL enabled with a defined embodied carbon target of <750kgCO2e/m2.
As one of Cambridge's longest established and most respected life science companies, we asked Domainex COO, David Cronk, why they made the decision to continue their growth journey at Unity Campus.
Fitting the brief of a growing CRO
“Domainex first joined Unity Campus in January 2022 on the back of strong uptake of our services by life science organisations globally over the previous two years,” said David.
“After searching for the ideal location to expand into, Unity Campus was identified as the best place for us to go. There were other options open to us and rental costs came into consideration, but what drove the decision in the end was the ability to configure the space. It fitted our brief which included being close to our headquarters and chemistry facility at Chesterford Research Park.
“And now, as we continue to scale, we have chosen to expand within the Unity Campus community into one of Howard Group’s brand-new science buildings. With our existing Chemistry and Bioanalytical Centre of Excellence at Chesterford Research Park, the combined footprint of Domainex research facilities will exceed 44,000 sq ft.”
David Cronk, Domainex COO
Instinctive commercial and community relationships
“There is a definite sense of conversation and cooperation; between individuals and between the various companies based here,” said David. “There's the day-to-day social interaction in terms of people just mingling and then there’s also regular commercial interaction as well.
“The difference comes when, even if it's not necessarily a business interaction, there's a high level of practical support and a sharing of knowledge and information. In my experience, this is difficult to achieve so effectively.
“We not only have clients amongst the Unity Campus community, we have a troupe of approachable companies here who are willing to lend a hand to one-another.
“If our fellow business occupiers are off site, we'll take any deliveries of equipment for example and vice versa. Or if I need to find an office furniture supplier and want a recommendation, I’ll happily speak to my equivalent from other companies on Campus and see who they've used.
“Another great example is a package of work with Chester Zoo under our CSR umbrella. We were connected to the team at Chester Zoo by Jeanette Walker, former Unity Campus Director, to see if we could establish a diagnostic test for some of their animals. We reached out to our Campus neighbours Biocair for help and advice on shipping samples from the zoo and they kindly shipped samples from Chester to us free of charge. That kind of responsive interaction is wonderfully common. I think it's a willingness to accept that perhaps we don't all hold the key or have all the answers but we can work together to find a solution.”
A multitude of opportunities to connect
“Unity Campus is the friendliest, most collaborative of the three campuses I've worked at in the area and few science parks succeed at this in a meaningful way,” said David.
“Not only does the Unity Campus team organise a lot of skills-based and networking events that are well supported to encourage interaction, there are also regular food vans and the sandwich vans come twice a day. In The Works there's a coffee machine and people can utilise the seating area to catch up, relax or work in the pods. Then there’s Bridge Fitness on Campus which some of the team use regularly to keep fit and active. So, lots of opportunities to interact.
“In addition, the on-site Campus team doesn’t shy away from inviting occupiers to collaborate and share common concerns, make suggestions and offer recommendations. It would be really unusual for any other campus or science park to get all of the tenants together regularly in this way, but it’s the norm at Unity Campus.
“I also regularly see and catch up with Unity Campus Community Engagement Manager Jess Harvey-Bowman and Unity Campus Director Jon Green and there's quite a lot of Howard Group team visibility too. I often see Fred Murphy when I'm wandering around and I have no doubt that one of them would be there if I needed something.
“Howard Group’s family-run business model and long-term vision to improve places and communities is very laudable. In their role as landlord, you can see what they're trying to achieve. It’s in train at Unity Campus and is to be commended. We hope to continue our growth on this fantastic Campus as we implement Domainex’s exciting future plans.”