Evolution of life sciences to spur need for high-end office space in Scots cities

Evolving health research could catalyse demand for high-end office space in Scotland’s cities from the burgeoning life sciences sector, according to Knight Frank.
The sector is on track to reach turnover of £8bn by 2025. Picture: Jovanmandic/Getty Images/iStockphoto.The sector is on track to reach turnover of £8bn by 2025. Picture: Jovanmandic/Getty Images/iStockphoto.
The sector is on track to reach turnover of £8bn by 2025. Picture: Jovanmandic/Getty Images/iStockphoto.

The UK Life Sciences report from the property consultancy – which has offices in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Melrose – has found that growing collaboration between companies in the industry and the wider tech sector, plus more computational science, will cause “seismic” shifts in the industry’s property requirements.

As medical technology, biopharmaceutical, and digital health companies become more interdependent, property will need to reflect their growing need to “cluster” in new locations, according to the report. It also highlighted the £750 million expansion plans at Edinburgh’s BioQuarter and the establishment of the Medicines Manufacturing Centre in Renfrewshire as examples of the trend already taking hold in Scotland.

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Knight Frank also said Edinburgh and Glasgow were among the top UK locations for investment in digital health, attracting £30m and £10.5m respectively.Scottish Development International says there are more than 750 life sciences organisations in Scotland, with the sector adding £2.4 billion to the economy, on track to reach turnover of £8bn by 2025.

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Lee Elliott, Knight Frank’s global head of occupier research, said: “Covid-19 has brought the growing importance of life science and health research companies to the fore. The needs of the NHS, and other health services, will likely cause an acceleration in the convergence of technology and life sciences, particularly around digital diagnostics and preventative medicine.

“The restructuring of life sciences companies will bring a new wave of demand from the sector, particularly in Scotland where [small and medium-sized enterprises] make up the majority of the industry.

“Indeed, landlords that are able to provide flexible, cost-effective space to accommodate the rapid growth these companies can achieve and help them track their investment will be well-positioned. So too will facilities that are future-proof and capable of manufacturing advanced therapeutics.”

Occupier services partner Simon Capaldi said: “The shift towards more computational [research and development] will see an increase in the need for more conventional office space in city-centre locations. It is perhaps no surprise that we’re seeing more demand from the sector in Edinburgh, which offers a deep pool of data science talent.

“Tech, more broadly, has emerged over the past five years or so as a significant source of activity in Edinburgh’s office market, accounting for around one-third of city centre take-up.”

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