Support services need to be available to scientific businesses to create successful clusters, UKPropFest delegates heard in a debate involving key names supporting Oxfordshire’s science communities.

Those attending the third session of the September 9 event, centred on science and property and chaired by Charles Rowton-Lee from Savills Oxford, heard from Dr Barbara Ghinelli, who is responsible for the development clusters at Harwell, Dr Caroline Livingstone, head of property at Culham Science Centre, Philip Campbell, commercial director for Milton Park and Alistair Lomax, director of the Arc Universities Group.

But the requirements for clusters were spelled out by Steve Chatfield, adviser to the UK Vaccines Taskforce.

He said: “Occupiers, particularly small companies which are private equity funded, what they are going to need is a cluster which has a really good scientific ecosystem.

“That’s got to support their translational research. When they spin out, what private equity investors are interested in is not the academic research, they are really interested in developing their products.

“Venture capitalists will not invest in bricks and mortar and will not invest in all regulatory things that are required for those companies to develop their products because nine out of 10 biotech products don’t succeed.

“So, you would not start off backing a manufacturing capability for a small biotech company, for instance.”

He said many of the manufacturing requirements of start ups and spin outs are provided at Harwell by the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre.

But other support services providers are also needed.

Mr Chatfield said: “What we do need for these clusters is companies like the regulatory service providers, analytical methodology providers, pre-clinical services and also contract development and manufacturing capabilities. That’s what the life science companies will be looking for going forward.”

See also:

Session 1: ‘We must keep communities on board’

Session 2: ‘Oxford needs to have a cohesive voice’

Session 4: Green Arc communications: ‘We have a serious problem’

Image (l-r): Philip Campbell, Alistair Lomax, Dr Caroline Livingstone, Dr Barbara Ghinelli and Steve Chatfield.

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