Oxford Biomedica, a leading gene and cell therapy group has announced that it has signed a fifteen-year lease on a new 84,000 sq ft facility at Oxford Business Park, close to its Windrush Court headquarters.
The site, which was formerly the Royal Mail’s Oxford Mail Centre, closed its doors to its 450 workers in June 2009 when Royal Mail moved its sorting operations from the Oxford to Swindon.
Oxford Biomedica will move into the office space immediately and will also start working on a two-phase fit-out of the building, now renamed OxBox, funded by its £20.5m share placing secured earlier this year.
This work will involve the installation of 45,000 sq ft of clean rooms, offices, warehousing and laboratories with space left over for future expansion.
Once open, the facility will more than double Oxford Biomedica’s bioprocessing capacity. The plan is to open the new offices and warehouse by the first quarter of next year with the additional GMP suites being ready a year later. Up to 100 highly skilled jobs will be created, adding to the company’s existing 400-strong workforce.
The move comes just three years after Oxford Biomedica relocated from The Oxford Science Park to its new headquarters building at Windrush Court, the former British Biotech headquarters building, which provides about 70,000 sq ft of laboratories and offices.
Oxford BioMedica also operates from Harrow House which provides predominantly laboratories and they have a separate manufacturing facility at Yarnton.
Commercial property agency VSL & Partners said it was one the largest deals in Oxfordshire so far this year.
VSL has had a successful long-term relationship with Oxford Biomedica for more than 15 years and has not only identified and negotiated terms for the acquisition of new buildings but also advised on rent reviews and business rates appeals to manage costs.
The move is also a boost for landlord DTZ investors which refurbished the building following the departure of Royal Mail.
VSL director Andrew Lockhart said: “This is fantastic and exciting news not just for Biomedica but for Oxford as a whole. This facility has been vacant for almost ten years and an investment of this scale by a local company represents a huge vote of confidence in the local economy and its burgeoning biotech sector.”
Christian Birrell of DTZ Investors said: “We took advantage of the departure of a long-standing tenant to completely repurpose the facility and are delighted it will provide an important new base to support Oxford Biomedica’s ground-breaking science and technology offering.”
John Dawson, Chief Executive Officer of Oxford Biomedica, said: “We are delighted to secure this new facility in Oxford for our capacity expansion programme. Oxford Biomedica is a leading gene and cell therapy Group and, following the approval of the first gene therapy in the US, we have seen a step-change in business development enquiries for our expertise across the LentiVector™ enabled platform. With the finances secured earlier this year, we are now able to accelerate our investment in the new facility which, once on stream, will have the capacity to meet the expected long-term demand for lentiviral vectors.”