As pandemic life sciences boom sees unprecedented demand for flexible space, Vaccitech plc (NASDAQ: VACC), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, responsible for the technology behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, has taken 31,000 sq. ft within the Zeus development at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, as active enquiries for space at Harwell hits 1.6 million sq. ft.

The clinical stage, T cell immunotherapy and vaccine company which develops products to treat and prevent infectious disease and cancer, is scaling up operations, taking half of the newly constructed Zeus building. Vaccitech’s fit-out will include state-of-the-art wet laboratory and offices, in a move which will boost UK innovation, research and development in this emerging sector.

The increasing investment in healthcare and life sciences as a result of COVID, has caused the recent supply and demand imbalance for laboratory space. A report by Savills* showed that between 2016 and 2020, an average £274 million was invested into UK life sciences real estate each year, with a prediction that this year investment in the UK will reach £550 million. If this pace continues, by 2025, investment into UK life sciences property could reach two billion pounds – ten times more than seen in the past five years.

In 2020, Brookfield Asset Management secured a 50 percent share in the Campus, investing in Harwell’s five million sq. ft real estate masterplan; A pipeline of purpose built, flexible real estate products, which includes the construction of tailored labs, advanced manufacturing, and grade A office space, to provide opportunities for companies like Vaccitech to scale at pace and grow sustainability.

One and a half million sq. ft will be developed by the mid-2020s to keep pace with occupier demand, half of which will be designated for specialist life science organisations as the campus continues to expand its roster of national and international companies across its multiple clusters including Health, Space, Energy and Quantum. 

The new Zeus building, forms part of the current 180,000 sq. ft development phase and sits alongside Quad Two a 40,000 sq.ft development of grade A offices and BEP0 which will provide 65,000 sq. ft of flexible R&D, lab, office and production space.

Stuart Grant, Chief Executive of Harwell Campus said: “I’m delighted that Vaccitech has chosen the Campus as its base to grow the business and to develop future vaccine manufacturing capability.

“We have an in-depth understanding of the needs of our diverse customer base, which allows us to provide the right environment and tailored space to retain talent and expertise, attract investment into the UK life sciences sector and help the government cement the UK’s position as a global science superpower.”

Vaccitech’s Chief Operating Officer, Chris Ellis, said, “Vaccitech has a broad pipeline of programmes in clinical trials and manufacturing for a biotechnology company of its size. This reflects the ambition, passion and drive that is felt right across the company and its investors as we strive to bring new immunotherapeutics and vaccines to the world. The need for new space designed primarily for state-of-the-art wet laboratory and offices, to house our growing team was our first priority, and staying within the Oxfordshire infrastructure, drove our decision to relocate to the Zeus building at Harwell Campus.”

Vaccitech is the latest company to join Harwell’s Health Cluster which is already home to; the Rosalind Franklin Institute where interdisciplinary research speeds up drug design and pushes forward our understanding of human health and disease; Advanced diagnostic organisations like Oxford Nanopore, whose sequencing technology has been used to track the spread of the virus in more than 85 countries; And the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre which, when fully operational will further boost the UK’s global vaccine manufacturing capability. 

The health cluster has trebled in size over the last five years, creating more than 700 new jobs and in June this year, the government committed a further four million pounds of funding, to improve Europe’s largest collection of open access scientific facilities at Harwell, keeping Diamond Light Source and ISIS at the cutting edge of what is scientifically possible.