The Oxford Trust, the local charity encouraging the pursuit of science and enterprise, is to install £0.5 million of new life science laboratory facilities at its Wood Centre for Innovation in Headington, Oxford. The Trust has received £100,000 in funding towards the project via the Government’s Local Growth Fund, secured by the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP).

The project will deliver laboratory facilities to meet the significant demand seen in the last year from science and tech start-ups and SMEs for lab space in Oxford’s Global Health and Life Sciences District, one of the UK’s leading technology clusters delivering lifesaving developments such as the COVID-19 vaccine. It will support the creation of more than 100 new jobs.

The project, to be carried out by Reading-based laboratory specialist project managers Bulb Laboratories, will total 3,300 sq ft of advanced R&D laboratory space for work at containment level 2 with climate control and air handling and 500 sq ft of shared facilities for common equipment and specialist microscopy use, including liquid nitrogen storage, autoclave, water purifier and dark room. The project is due for completion in Spring 2021.

The funding is expected to significantly boost employment at the innovation centre as companies move in to provide further economic growth for the city and local community.

Steve Burgess, CEO of The Oxford Trust said: “Now more than ever, we need to invest to support local innovators and entrepreneurs to develop ground-breaking ideas. This first phase of laboratory installations at the Wood Centre for Innovation means we will be able to offer a complete range of spaces in our two innovation centres from virtual offices and co-working to grade A office space and laboratory facilities to support science and tech start-ups and spinouts on their journey to success.”

“Thank you to OxLEP for their continued support of not just The Trust and our charitable aims but Oxfordshire’s innovation ecosystem. With this national government funding we are able to quickly pivot to meet the significant demand from companies needing specific lab space.”

Nigel Tipple, Chief Executive of OxLEP said: “The confirmation of funding for such a significant project – that will continue to build on the county’s world-class science and technology assets – is excellent news.

“As the Local Enterprise Partnership for Oxfordshire, we will continue to play a vitally important role for the county moving forward, securing investment that enables new opportunities that benefit the county’s businesses for many years to come.

“In recent months, Oxfordshire’s life sciences sector has demonstrated its global standing and has had a monumental impact on responding to the COVID19 pandemic. We hope the funding received by The Oxford Trust will help continue to build on this position of strength.”

The first phase of the works is planned to complete in the spring. If successful, the Trust will then actively look to add further laboratory space at the Wood Centre for Innovation.