MedCity forecasts 250,000 sq ft shortfall in London lab space


London needs to add at least 250,000 square feet of life science work and laboratory space over the next decade, according to a report by MedCity. The report, the conclusions of which are based on feedback from more than 80 companies, found that fresh capacity is needed if London is to continue accommodating spinouts and welcoming investment from overseas.

MedCity, a life science partnership between politicians and a clutch of academic centers in London, started digging into the level of demand for space after becoming increasingly aware of issues some organizations are facing when trying to set up shop in the city. “We've known for a while that access to lab space has been a significant issue for foreign direct investment and for an increasing number of spinouts,” Phil Jackson, projects director at MedCity, told FierceBiotech.

Now, MedCity has an estimate of the scale of the issue. The organization thinks London needs to bring at least 250,000 square feet of capacity on line over the next decade, an amount that, while small by the standards of some life science initiatives, represents a sizeable plot of land in a city where space is an expensive commodity that is fought over by a mix of industries and residential developments. “The demands on land are huge,” Jackson said.

Jackson is hoping that the report will give academic centers and property developers the confidence to commit to opening new buildings and retrofitting existing spaces. Prior to the report, there was a lack of objective, London-wide data on demand for capacity. “A lot of people had a partial view. They knew their own pipeline, they had some sense of international demand, but nobody had a full field of vision,” Jackson said.

MedCity has identified seven locations that could add more than 2 million square foot of capacity to London by 2020, but, as it stands, the Imperial College development at White City is the only project that is definitely moving forward. While White City is insufficient to meet the forecast demands for different types of space on its own, Jackson nonetheless sees the addition of new capacity, which has been a rare event in recent years, as an “incredibly positive” development.

“I think it helps us overcome, internationally, something of a perception that London is full,” he said. The perception that London is expensive may be harder to shift. MedCity’s report includes data from international property agents Cushman and Wakefield on the cost of renting space in London as compared to other cities. When taxes are factored in, prime, West End space in London costs £1,846 ($2,641) per square meter. Prime space in Boston, MA is listed as £430 per square meter.

- read the report (PDF)