Lack of lab space threatens London’s burgeoning life sciences sector

The Golden Triangle could face more competition from emerging life science hubs across the UK

Lack of lab space threatens London's burgeoning life sciences sector

London’s burgeoning life sciences sector risks being held back by a lack of available lab space, according to global property adviser Knight Frank.

New data from Knight Frank shows that ’live’ demand for lab space in the Capital stands at 974,500 sq ft, following a total of £1.8bn in venture capital investment in London life sciences in 2023, and a 61% increase y-o-y in new company incorporations.

However, available lab space stands at just 179,295 sq ft – less than a quarter of current demand. Major developments set to complete in 2024, including Oxford Properties’ repurposing of Victoria House in Bloomsbury and  Apex Tribeca, Reef Group’s innovation hub at King’s Cross, will deliver 664,300 sq ft, leaving a shortfall of more than 100,000 sq ft.

According to Knight Frank, the Golden Triangle – which comprises London, Oxford and Cambridge – could face more competition from emerging life science hubs across the UK. Currently, more than 50% of jobs are now located outside of the Golden Triangle and this could increase further following Government’s recent commitment to create new regional investment zones as well as the efforts by regional universities to attract new funding and spin out commercial STEM activities.

Emma Goodford, Head of Life Sciences and Innovation at Knight Frank, commented: “An epicentre for academia and finance, London has enormous potential for growth across the life sciences sector. With Government support for the sector only to set increase given the ambition to establish the UK as a science superpower, we will continue to advancements in emerging technologies such as quantum computing and artificial intelligence, which will give rise to more start-ups and spin-outs. The challenge will be to ensure development can keep pace with demand and we can provide the infrastructure for these businesses to thrive and grow.”

Jennifer Townsend, Partner at Knight Frank, added: “Though the supply of high-quality lab space in London will increase over the next 12 months the Capital is still facing a shortfall.

“The UK life sciences sector is expanding at pace across the UK, with science and innovation seen as fundamental to the ‘levelling up’ of regional economies. It is vital that we deliver the right lab infrastructure in London, and across the country, to support the growth of life sciences hubs that are sustainable and complimentary.”

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