Nottingham gets “grow ahead” for new £30m life science facility

Hundreds of highly skilled jobs are expected to be created and safeguarded in Nottingham with the news that work can now start on a new £30m life science building adjacent to the current BioCity site on Pennyfoot Street.

Contracts have now been signed by all parties and work has begun on site. The five-storey state-of-the-art facility forms an expansion of the highly successful BioCity complex, and will be operated by BioCity Group Ltd after they signed contracts with Nottingham City Council this week.

It can also be announced that Sygnature Discovery, currently based in the Laurus building at BioCity, will take up 30,000sq ft of the 50,000 sq ft available in the new building. This is part of the company’s plan to increase headcount in Nottingham by a further 70 scientists and support staff, to over 200 by 2018. It will also further cement its reputation as the UK’s leading provider of advanced scientific expertise to the pharmaceutical and biotech industries.

This in turn frees up space in the existing building for more developing companies to make use of its excellent incubator facilities.

Willmott Dixon has been appointed main contractor and CPMG of Nottingham the architects, under an agreement which will see local people benefit from construction jobs on the project. Expected to complete in spring 2017, the facility will help to bring more life science employers to Nottingham and create and safeguard around 250 specialist bioscience jobs, with 700 more created over a 30-year period – often graduates from the city’s universities.

The prominent brownfield site on Plough Lane overlooking Parliament Street will benefit from a striking new building which design includes a sunscreen created by acclaimed local artist Wolfgang Buttress. The building will be designed to aim to achieve a BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology) rating, aimed at reducing its environmental impact.  It will be connected to the district heating system and so its energy needs will be provided from burning the city’s waste. The new development is expected to act as a catalyst for the regeneration of the Eastside of the city.

The site was bought, cleared and decontaminated by Nottingham City Council for the state-of-the-art life science incubator to be developed. The facility will be fitted with high-tech biology and chemistry laboratories which will be built in a range of sizes to allow companies to expand, with ancillary space for commercial leasing to both start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises.

The City Council successfully applied to the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership for £6.5m from its Local Growth Fund towards the overall costs of the scheme, with the remaining costs funded by the council.

Councillor Jon Collins, Leader for Nottingham City Council and Portfolio Holder for Strategic Regeneration, said: “This is a significant development because not only will it cement our position as the UK’s fastest growing life science community, bringing new investment and job opportunities in one of our key growth sectors, but it will also help to regenerate the east side of the city and bring job opportunities during its construction.”

Operations director at BioCity Toby Reid said: “This is a real statement of intent for Nottingham as a leader in the life sciences sector. Not only have we ensured that a company of the standing of Sygnature Discovery has remained here, as a beacon of excellence in the sector but we’ve also been able to create further space to accommodate our own growth and that of the next generation of innovative entrepreneurs.

“It is by creating this clustering effect that we can accelerate the growth of companies within and associated with BioCity. That is good news for the local economy which, via the city council and the LEP is placing life sciences at the heart of its growth strategy. They are to be applauded for their commitment – we will ensure by working closely with them that the city reaps the rewards of this exciting, shared vision.”

Nick Heath, operations director at Willmott Dixon in the East Midlands, said: “This is an exciting project for Willmott Dixon and we are extremely pleased to be involved in such an iconic development which will raise the benchmark for future development in the city. The new building will help support start up and existing small and medium sized enterprises within the sector – making it a fantastic hub for the ever-growing life science business in the Midlands.

“We are looking forward to making a start on this project and further strengthening our portfolio of life science projects – which is steadily increasing alongside demand in the region.”

Sygnature Discovery’s CEO & Founder, Dr Simon Hirst, commented: “Sygnature Discovery was founded in BioCity over ten years ago and has grown rapidly during the past few years.  Although the facilities are excellent at BioCity there has been a risk that our future growth within the city would be constrained due to space.  The Council’s decision to invest in this state-of-the-art science building will allow us to continue our expansion in Nottingham and to create more science- based jobs.

“We are delighted that the facility will enable us to continue to grow our relationship with the city and BioCity and I’m pleased to announce that Sygnature Discovery will be the anchor tenant in this prestigious facility.  The infrastructure around BioCity is hugely beneficial and this development will allow further jobs to be created and we hope attract new life science businesses to the city.  I would like to congratulate everyone involved in this unique partnership and look forward to seeing the city’s scientific reputation continue to flourish.”

David Ralph, Chief Executive for the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Nottingham has seen a boom in the life sciences sector over the last decade and it now needs room to develop further.

“The D2N2 LEP is committed to aiding the growth of its eight key economic sectors, including life sciences, which is why we were happy to invest £6.5million in this major project, put forward by our local authority partner Nottingham City Council.”