The Oxford Trust is undertaking a £0.5 million project to install life science laboratories at the Wood Centre for Innovation in Headington, Oxford, to increase capacity for the local innovation ecosystem. It has received £0.1 million in funding towards the project via the Government’s Local Growth Fund, secured by the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP).
The project will deliver laboratory facilities to answer the significant demand that has been seen in the last year from science and tech start-ups and SMEs for lab space in Oxford’s Global Health and Life Sciences District, one of the UK’s leading technology clusters delivering lifesaving developments such as the COVID-19 vaccine.
The work will be carried out by laboratory specialist project managers Bulb Laboratories. The project will total 3,300 sq ft of advanced R&D laboratory space with climate control and air handling and 500 sq ft of shared facilities for common equipment and specialist microscopy use, including liquid nitrogen storage, autoclave, water purifier and darkroom. The project is due for completion in late spring 2021.
Alongside the lab space, the Wood Centre for Innovation provides grade A offices, co-working and desk space in Barclays Eagle Lab, a lecture theatre, meeting rooms, café area and sector-specific business support.
Steve Burgess, CEO of The Oxford Trust said: “Now more than ever, we need to invest to support local innovators and entrepreneurs to develop ground-breaking ideas. This first phase of laboratory installations at the Wood Centre for Innovation means we will now be able to offer a complete range of spaces in our two innovation centres from virtual offices and co-working to grade A office space and laboratory facilities to support science and tech start-ups and spinouts on their journey to success.”
“Thank you to OxLEP for their continued support of not just The Trust and our charitable aims but Oxfordshire’s innovation ecosystem. With this national government funding we are able to quickly pivot to meet the significant demand from companies needing specific lab space.”
The Growth Fund allows LEPs to use their local knowledge to promote growth in their individual regions. Analysis has shown that for every £1 of Local Growth Fund invested, £4.81 in benefits could be generated. Since its inception in 2011, OxLEP – with its partners – has secured around £660 million-worth of government funding for Oxfordshire, which has seen more than 48,000 new jobs created in the county to-date.
In total, OxLEP currently oversees a £2.2 billion growth programme for the county. The funding is hoped to significantly boost employment at the innovation centre as companies move in to provide further economic growth for the city and the local community.
Nigel Tipple, Chief Executive of OxLEP said: “The confirmation of funding for such a significant project – that will continue to build on the county’s world-class science and technology assets – is excellent news.
“As the Local Enterprise Partnership for Oxfordshire, we will continue to play a vitally important role for the county moving forward, securing investment that enables new opportunities that benefit the county’s businesses for many years to come.
“In recent months, Oxfordshire’s life sciences sector has demonstrated its global standing and has had a monumental impact on responding to the COVID19 pandemic. We hope the funding received by The Oxford Trust will help continue to build on this position of strength.”
Bulb Laboratories has been contracted to oversee the development at the Wood Centre for Innovation. Based in Reading and specialists in laboratory conversion, Bulb is to provide expert consultancy services, including design and project management.
The first phase of the works is planned to complete in the spring. If successful, the Trust will then actively look to add further laboratory space at the Wood Centre for Innovation.
The Oxford Trust is an independent charitable trust that was established in 1985 by Oxford entrepreneurs Sir Martin and Audrey, Lady Wood, founders of Oxford Instruments. The Trust’s mission is to encourage the pursuit of science and enterprise.