People & places

Demand for life science business space in London increases four-fold

October 5, 2021

London’s life sciences companies are growing significantly and competing for lab space in London. Identified demand for space exceeds 500,000 square feet and over half of that needs to be satisfied within two years – around four times that recorded in 2016 – according to a report published today by life sciences cluster MedCity. London’s talent pool, amenities and culture, as well as an overall boom in science research and development in the past few years, are behind the increase in demand. For life sciences companies, having labs in the capital also allows researchers to tap into an existing, strong scientific community. The actual figure for demand in London is likely to be even higher, given the huge influx of investment into the life sciences sector since the COVID-19 pandemic, and because the report provides a snapshot of companies involved in R&D intensive activity. Queues for life sciences start-ups to get floor space in London innovation centres – spaces where small business and academia can be based together – are significant and causing frustration amongst businesses with small scale needs, stifling their ability to grow.

Krzysztof Potempa, Founder and CEO of BRAINCURES, a virtual biotech company, said “All too often, conversations around infrastructure and connecting the science community focus on big companies and large academic institutes. We need to make sure start-ups and SMEs are considered too because it’s the success of those businesses that feed the pipelines of bigger life sciences companies – the whole ecosystem needs to thrive together. At the moment, infrastructure and availability of lab space is limiting our growth, and this report highlights how we can start to change that.” The report – The London Life Sciences Real Estate Demand Report – explores company perspectives on why they made London their home. It reveals that being close to clinical services and being in pockets of London where other research companies are based are important factors. However, this can lead to demand being focussed in specific areas of London, with companies repeatedly saying they prefer to be located in central London, as demonstrated in a heat map in the report. Hubs like the Knowledge Quarter around King’s Cross, typically take years of investment and concerted effort from businesses and cluster organisations like MedCity to become established.

Virginia Acha, Global lead, Global Regulatory Policy, MSD, said “For MSD, place is very important for many reasons. The greatest factor in London’s favour as a destination for scientific research remains the ability to attract and retain leading talent. London’s connectivity to the rest of the UK and to the rest of Europe is a notable benefit, from a talent perspective, but also when it comes to establishing research collaborations.”

Neelam Patel, CEO of MedCity, who published the report in association with Creative Places, said “This report is an important first step in enabling us to speed up growth in London – now we have a clear picture of demand and supply, we can support companies across the life sciences sector to create the right places for growth. These insights will strengthen our ability to shape the research community’s space in London and realise the huge opportunity that we have to grow our sector here and across the UK.”

A copy of the report can be accessed here:

News & Analysis

by Gwyn Tudor