Savills’ research has shown £1.5 billion was raised in life science-related capital by UK companies in and around Oxford in 2020, a 47 per cent increase on 2019.

Savills puts the increase, revealed in its Life Sciences: Trends & Outlook Report, down to the city’s role in developing the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.

The 2020 total accounts for 40 per cent of the £3.7bn raised over the last five years, including through mergers and acquisitions, private equity and venture capital (VC).

Key deals include the fast-tracked Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) at Harwell campus, Eurofins Bioanalytical taking 16,823 sq ft at 90 Park Drive, Milton Park and a lease assignment agreed to Exscientia for 12,700 sq ft at the Schrodinger Building at Oxford Science Park.

Overall, life science related occupiers accounted for 50 per cent of all office take-up during 2020.

Savills anticipates a strong 2021 with recorded capital raised in January and February alone at around 59 per cent of the total recorded for the whole of 2020.

The Oxford pipeline shows around 820,000 sq ft of ‘office and lab capable’ space is due to be delivered over the next three years.

That includes 30,000 sq ft at Oxford Innovation Park, currently in the planning system, while the Oxford University Development, the university’s partnership with L&G, has consent for a 270,000 sq ft research centre in the city, due for completion in 2024.

Charlie Rowton-Lee, director in the business space team at Savills Oxford, said: “2020 saw Oxford receive global recognition for its key role in finding a Covid-19 vaccine, which is already having an impact on the amount of capital being deployed into the local life science sector for the year ahead.

“There is no doubt that this will translate into further real estate demand as firms continue to both spin out of the university and require the right grow on space.

“Despite its size, Oxford remains in the top 25 cities globally (excluding the US) that continue to dominate when it comes to VC funding and I can only see it climbing up the ranks as interest in life sciences increases.”

Image by Chensiyuan – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

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