R&D Labs: Manchester Sits On A Par With

The Golden Triangle

8th December 2023

A recent analysis of R&D lab take up across the UK’s main markets shows that Manchester more than holds its own against each of the main Golden Triangle markets of Cambridge, Oxford and London. 

Average R&D wet lab take up since 2020 in the Manchester market exceeds that in Cambridge, is 23% behind Oxford and would sit well ahead of London were it not for the sizeable pre-let of over 200,000 sq ft to MSD for their London Research Discovery Centre which heavily influences the data in that younger but fast developing market.

What is it that makes Manchester so successful?  The two most sizeable life science hot spots in the local market both benefit from significant scale, are incredibly well aligned to the major growth sectors in the industry and have complementary areas of focus expertise. The pace of transformation along the Oxford Road Corridor and at Alderley Park is often underestimated and the region is home to at least seven European or global centres of excellence.

The Oxford Road Corridor is home to significant institutions across the life sciences, advanced materials and digital & technology sectors with the triple helix amply demonstrated across them all. Most exciting is their concentration and density, all within less than a square mile. Over £1bn has been invested in over 2m sq ft across 12 advanced innovation buildings t since 2015 including the Pankhurst, Royce and National Graphene Institutes to join the already existing Institute of Biotechnology and Turing Institute.

The area is home to Qiagen’s European Centre for Precision Medicine and soon to be joined by UK Biobank’s major HQ and research facility. Added to this are one of the largest NHS Trusts in the country and the two universities’ science faculty expansions (MECD (UoM) and the Dalton Building (MMU)). It is a genuine stand out region for precision medicine across the country and comparisons to Kings Cross are readily identifiable. 3 miles south sits The Christie, the largest cancer treatment centre in Europe and home to Cancer Research UK’s Manchester Institute.

Meanwhile Alderley Park, at 1m sq ft the largest single site bioscience campus in the UK, has incredible expertise in pre-clinical drug discovery and home to over 250 businesses.  With a range of international and fast growing CROs & CDMOs including Evotec, Charles River, Sygnature Discovery and SAI Life alongside more than 20 biotechs, it has transformed over the last 9 years into a site with a proven track record in businesses recruiting talent at significant scale.  The access to such a comprehensive range of specialist facilities on a pay as you go basis is invaluable to start up businesses and is largely unrivalled across the country.

There is lab space available now with significant developments in the pipeline.  Pioneer Group and Bruntwood have both recently brought lab refurbishment schemes to the market at Hexagon Tower and Alderley Park respectively while there is around 600,000 sq ft of new lab space either under construction or going through the planning process to secure the development pipeline for the foreseeable future.


Our expert team provides strategic commercial property advice to investors and occupiers on laboratory and office space to let, to learn more about how we can support and improve your search for life sciences space, contact us on 0161 706 1888 or email jamie.bottomley@trackrealestate.co.uk.

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