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Brookfield Asset Management acquires 50% stake in Harwell Campus JV

Aerial view of Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire

Brookfield Asset Management, one of the world’s largest property groups and asset managers, with interests in MIT and Canary Wharf, has acquired the private sector half shareholding in the Harwell Campus joint venture which manages and develops the campus.

The acquisition, which comes at a critical time for the UK economy and property market, with many deals being put on hold due to the coronavirus crisis, will accelerate the expansion of Harwell’s unique real estate portfolio ultimately fast-tracking the delivery of a 5million sq ft masterplan and consolidating Harwell as one of the fastest-growing sites dedicated to science and technology in the UK.

Commenting on what Brookfield will bring to the joint venture, Angus Horner, Partner and Director, Harwell Science and Innovation Campus said: “Having Brookfield within the JV will accelerate the expansion and development of the Campus. Our shared ambitions are to make Harwell an even more powerful world-leading site for science and technology – supercharging the UK’s knowledge economy and ultimately growing UK plc.”

Continuing to expand the campus’s presence on the global stage is a point also made by Zachary Vaughan, Head of Europe at Brookfield Asset Management’s Real Estate Group, “We very much look forward to working with our joint venture partner, HM Government, to accelerate the growth of Harwell Campus and to expand its presence as a globally important location for science research and breakthrough technologies.”

As investment in UK tech firms grew by 44% in 2019, taking it to £10.1bn and placing the UK third in the world behind only the US and China, demand for science and tech real estate also increased – Harwell has seen consistently high demand for office and lab space. The latest 400,000 sq ft of development is underway, due to be delivered by the end of 2021, and with a total of 1.5million sq ft to be developed by the mid-2020s, the campus will continue to expand its roster of national and international companies looking to grow at pace and scale across its multiple clusters including Life Sciences, Space and Energy.

Talking about the positive impact of public/ private collaboration Dr Tim Bestwick, Chief Technology Officer, United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, a public sector shareholder within the joint venture commented, "The Harwell Campus joint venture represents a powerful collaboration between the private and public sector, and is helping bring together industry, academia and world-leading research facilities to speed up the process of innovation. Harwell has benefited from substantial and long-standing investments by HM Government which result in the world-leading science and innovation capabilities today. There is huge potential for building on the current activities and heritage, and we are looking forward to working with Brookfield in this task."

The news comes at YE2019 which saw significant investment from HM Government in the campus, including a new digitisation and science research facility for the Natural History Museum (£180million), The National Quantum Computing Centre (>£50million), The Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (£67million), The Nucleic Acid Therapy Accelerator (£30million) and the Extreme Photonics Application Centre (£81million).

Concerning the current economic climate, William Cooper, co-founder in Harwell Oxford Partners, one half of the private sector shareholding concluded "Everything has changed – global and sovereign resilience is paramount; Harwell is at the epicentre of this trend. What was a unique national asset is now positioned to emerge as the world’s leading location for science and technology."