Breakthrough Properties breaks ground in heart of Oxford’s life science innovation cluster

Breakthrough Properties, a leading global life sciences real estate developer, held groundbreaking events in October to herald the start of construction of Trinity by Breakthrough in Oxford, England, one of the leading academic and innovation clusters in the world.

A joint venture of global developer Tishman Speyer and biotechnology investment firm Bellco Capital, Breakthrough is constructing a world-class life sciences environment featuring 210,000 square feet of bespoke labs, offices and amenities at the gateway of the 88-acre Oxford Business Park.

Breakthrough acquired the site and is financing the development through its Breakthrough Life Science Fund and a £137 million (approximately $166 million) construction loan from a European lender. Having secured ‘notice of grant of planning permission’, construction commenced on the 16th of October, with completion of construction and initial occupancy anticipated in late 2025.

Trinity by Breakthrough is poised to meet the overwhelming demand of companies seeking a vibrant full-service life science ecosystem in Oxfordshire. With a supply and demand imbalance in the market, the 210,000-square-foot building will provide much needed new supply of high-quality, premier commercial R&D space in a market reported to have over one million square feet of demand and limited Grade A supply delivering in the next four years.

“There are over 30 companies needing R&D space, and the pipeline for new development is already pointing to a shortfall of available and appropriate sites,” said Tom Renn, Breakthrough Properties Vice President for Acquisitions and Development. “We are incredibly inspired by Oxford, an ecosystem that is rich with history and that has contributed to many of the world’s most impactful discoveries—from the development and production of penicillin in the early 1940s, to its incredible contribution to the world’s fight against COVID-19, to more recent approvals such as the first TCR approval for melanoma by Immunocore in 2022, among others. It is these scientific breakthroughs and companies that we hope to support with the provision of premier R&D infrastructure we’re developing at Trinity.”

One third of the companies created in Oxford since 1959 have formed in the last five years, indicating major acceleration in both the life science economy and innovation in the market, which is in turn placing a strain on the real estate options in the region as demand surges.

To celebrate the groundbreaking, Trinity by Breakthrough also hosted a reception and panel discussions with industry leaders Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University; former Chairman and CEO of Roche Dr. Franz Humer; Bellco Capital Chairman Dr. Arie Belldegrun; Tishman Speyer Head of Europe Bernard Penaud; E. Eric Tokat, Co-President of Investment Banking at Centerview Partners; Endpoints News CEO Arsalan Arif; and Oxford Science Enterprises Senior Partner Dr. Katya Smirnyagina.

The conversations highlighted the need for scientific infrastructure and investment in the Golden Triangle that not only match the caliber of Oxford and Cambridge but also foster future innovation. As Tokat explained about the dynamics of pharma M&A, “It wasn’t just that we bought the product and we’re moving on. We want an Oxford infrastructure, we want a space, we want a lab, we want to tap the talent at Oxford. I think that to me is very, very meaningful—more so than just someone buying a molecule and then moving on.”

Dr. Smirnyagina added, “Many scientists in Europe or the U.K. have been saying it is impossible to build a company here, and it is so rewarding to see incredible companies now being built here. We hope that the infrastructure Breakthrough is developing will be a significant factor in even further expansion.”

Trinity by Breakthrough will feature a distinctive and expressive architectural design with its creative use of glass, incorporation of pocket spaces and terraces, and a jettied ground floor to enhance the sense of arrival and maximize the public outdoor landscape. Breakthrough’s plans for Trinity, which were approved by the Oxford City Council earlier this year, reflect Breakthrough’s ongoing commitment to increasing energy efficiency, reducing carbon emissions, and providing healthy and inspiring workspaces. The design includes a series of living walls, as well as dedicated amenities and well-being centers. As with all of its European projects, Breakthrough has committed to achieving at least BREEAM Excellent certification, while striving to reach BREEAM Outstanding.

Breakthrough is one of the most active players in global life sciences development, with approximately five million square feet of projects in its active pipeline. In September, Breakthrough broke ground on Neogene Therapeutics’ new European headquarters within the campus of the Amsterdam University Medical Center, one of Europe’s leading medical institutions. Breakthrough is also deep into the design and approval process for Vitrum by Breakthrough, which will be located within St. John’s Innovation Park in Cambridge, U.K.

In addition to its European presence, Breakthrough is developing projects in major life science markets throughout the United States. The firm has multiple developments in Boston, including the recently completed The 105 by Breakthrough, which serves as CRISPR Therapeutics’ U.S. Research & Development headquarters. It is currently constructing Torrey View by Breakthrough, a 10-acre research and development campus in San Diego that will be anchored by a new innovation center for BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company). The firm is also developing new life science ecosystems in both Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Boulder, Colorado.