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Private investors sought to lead expansion of Newcastle’s life-sciences success story

March 10, 2022

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Huge demand for commercial lab and office space at Newcastle’s Biosphere means private sector investment is now being sought to take the lead on expanding the heart of the north east’s £1.7bn life science eco-system.

Located at Newcastle Helix, The Biosphere launched in 2019 as a publicly funded project, led by Newcastle City Council; it represented a significant investment for the local economy and showed a clear commitment to life sciences growth.

Potential investors from across the world will have the opportunity to find out more when Invest Newcastle (part of NewcastleGateshead Initiative) lead a delegation to MIPIM, one of the world’s largest real estate events, which takes place (15-18 March) in the city of Cannes.

A specialist lab facility tailored to commercialisation of life sciences, providing biology and chemistry laboratories and high-quality office space, the Biosphere is now home to more than 25 dynamic and innovative life science businesses.

Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council said: “Almost three years on from its opening, the Biosphere is a widely recognised success story and quite simply, there is currently more demand for lab space at the Biosphere than can be accommodated. It will be encouraging for any potential investor to know that a strong pipeline made up of existing businesses wanting to grow, alongside inward investors looking for city centre commercial lab and office space, has already been identified.

“The health and life science cluster is a big employer in the city and a key part of the future economy of Newcastle city centre; we’re ambitious, and looking for a private investor to share the ambition to be a leading international location for innovation in the sector.”

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) is providing funding for Newcastle City Council, to develop a business case that will go to market later this year. With the support of NewcastleGateshead Initiative and Invest Newcastle the aim is to secure a private sector investor to lead the project and create further city centre commercial lab and office space for spinouts, start-ups, growing and established companies to complement the provision already in place.

Andrew Moffat CBE, Chair of the Investment Board at the North East LEP, said: “The health and life sciences sector in the North East is a major growth area for our economy, and through the delivery of the North East Health, Life Sciences and Medicines Manufacturing Strategy, we hope to double the number of jobs and double the number of businesses active in the sector by 2030.

“The success of the first Biosphere building, which received £8.6m from the North East LEP’s Local Growth Fund, can give investors’ confidence that demand exists in our region for more world-class facilities that enable innovative start-ups to scaleup and grow.

“The North East LEP continues to invest in the region’s health and life science sector, and we’re pleased to support Newcastle City Council’s bid to expand The Biosphere.”

Jennifer Hartley is Director at Invest Newcastle: “There is already huge interest in the North East as a leading UK location in which to invest, develop or locate, and our time at MIPIM will be spent talking with influential investment and real estate delegates from across the world about opportunities that exist in Newcastle, and at the same continuing to promote the wider region and its strengths.

“The Biosphere has created jobs, supported graduate retention and further enhanced our global reputation as a hotspot for life science businesses. Securing private investment will be critical to the growth of the sector,” she said.

The North East of England’s regional life science eco-system employs around 7,000 professionals in almost 200 companies, who operate globally from the region. Pioneers in pre-clinical research, diagnostics, rare diseases, and healthy longevity, with forward-thinking companies leverage leading research and development support from the city’s world-leading universities and outstanding NHS Trust.

The sector is strong and has seen huge growth in recent years and the strength of the ecosystem led Pfizer to open its first UK INSPIRE site in partnership with Newcastle University, a global Top 100 university for life sciences and medicine.

Luke Dunnett, Property Manager at The Biosphere said: “The undoubted success Biosphere has had means the spotlight is on the city as a location where life sciences organisations can thrive and grow.”

Invest Newcastle support businesses to locate and grow in the North of Tyne, supporting the creation of jobs and the growth of key sectors, including life sciences. In January 2022 alone Invest Newcastle, who are part of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, has helped bring more than 300 jobs to the region.

To find out more about the Biosphere visit

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