London’s life sciences to undergo rapid expansion

London’s life sciences sector has reached a level of momentum that looks unstoppable, according to CBRE’s inaugural report, Life Sciences London. The report assesses the growth potential of the sector in London and what this means for the real estate community.

London’s well-established life sciences cluster, together with Oxford and Cambridge, forms the ‘Golden Triangle’ – a pre-eminent global life sciences cluster, acknowledged in the government’s recently published Life Sciences Industrials Strategy. However, a combination of emerging global trends – including a strong rise in global healthcare expenditure, and advances in medical treatments enabled by technology – provide a scale that CBRE expects will drive the sector’s rapid expansion. Key findings from the report reveal:

  • Increasing collaboration between the life sciences and tech sectors provides London with a distinct advantage over other global clusters – no more so than in the Knowledge Quarter, a partnership of 73-knowledge based institutions around King’s Cross, Euston and Bloomsbury. Known as the world’s greatest knowledge cluster, the area is home to the Crick Institute, Google’s new HQ and the Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national institute for data science.
  • London is expected to benefit from the increasing trend of large pharmaceutical firms relocating their R&D facilities to urban clusters – already apparent in New York, where pharmas are attracted by the potential to collaborate with universities and research institutes.
  • Strong growth and shifting locational preferences will result in strong demand in London for space adjacent to research institutions. This includes incubator space providing flexible space for start-ups, small units of flexible space for established businesses, innovation space and larger units catering for a range of users with excellent amenities.
  • The opportunity for the real estate community is to determine how it can deliver an affordable collaborative platform that works from an occupier and investor perspective. Lessons from other successful global clusters show that the public sector has a role to play in supporting developers’ response to occupiers’ requirements.
Andy Monighan, Senior Director, Tenant Advisory, CBRE
London has all the ingredients of a dynamic ecosystem to support a strong life sciences industry: world-leading universities and research institutions, highly-skilled workforce, a supportive business environment and a vibrant entrepreneurial culture backed by easy availability of finance. The recent opening of the Francis Crick Institute, home to 1,250 scientists, highlights the cluster’s existing strengths and will provide further momentum. We expect London’s life sciences cluster to expand relatively quickly, and this will drive strong demand for office, innovation and lab space as close as possible to these knowledge centres.
Andy Monighan, Senior Director, Tenant Advisory, CBRE