The Government’s bold new life sciences vision, as set out in its recently published 10-year strategy, will forge a path to build on its pandemic response and solve some of the biggest and most pressing healthcare challenges facing our generation.
The launch of the Life Sciences Investment Programme will bring an additional £1bn of funding to the sector and will help address seven critical healthcare missions. But with a current shortfall of R&D space in the UK, commercial developers and public sector bodies may have to re-evaluate their existing assets to meet that demand.
The life sciences industry represents one of the dominant economic sectors in the UK and has proven itself to be a crucial pillar of the UK economy - the sector generated almost £81bn in annual turnover and employed over a quarter of a million people across the country in 2019.
The global COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on the already flourishing industry. The pandemic has required a global effort to research and develop vaccines in life sciences labs. These same labs have also had to develop testing kits, producing PCR and Lateral Flow test kits which needed to be rolled out at scale. Both the vaccines and testing kits were delivered in record breaking time due to the combined efforts of the life science sector and the dedicated teams around the world. In fact, the COVID-19 vaccine was the fastest developed vaccine in history.
Other commercial buildings may have to be adapted to keep up with the demand for life sciences space
To emulate the success of the UK Vaccines Taskforce in developing and rolling out the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, a co-developed roadmap has been provided in the form of the UK’s ‘Life Sciences Vision’. Hoping to solve a number of major health challenges ranging from dementia to cancer treatment, the Vision provides a new blueprint for how government, the NHS and industry can work together to deliver the next generation of therapies, diagnostics and insights to improve patient health.
However, in order to deliver the Vision and cultivate growth in the sector the UK needs to onshore the manufacture and commercialisation of breakthrough products, requiring the delivery of more commercial labs and R&D-related workspace. But with analysis from Savills showing a dearth of new lab space coming through in the short-term pipeline, other commercial buildings may have to be adapted to provide the much-needed life sciences space. Building new research and lab facilities can be a slow and carbon-intensive process. As we explore in the full article, refurbishing existing office space can potentially offer a faster and more efficient solution.