The UK has a strong record when it comes to the development of the latest technology in the world and scientific research and the government has rightly focused its attention on further fostering the science and technology start-up. A key pillar to the strategy is the nurturing of science and technology clusters in regions such as the Midlands and north, with the London area including Oxford and Cambridge already strong.
In that context the recent announcement of a major investment by Legal & General in partnership with property company Bruntwood to develop a network of science and technology parks in the Midlands and north, connected to access to venture funding for start-ups, comes as a huge boost.
The two companies have established the Bruntwood Scitech vehicle joint venture, which create science and technology parks providing offices and laboratories covering an initial 1.3 million sq ft., rising to as much as 6.2 million sq. ft. The new parks will host as many as 500 companies, both established enterprises and start-ups such as university spin-off companies. It is believed the scheme could lead to the creation of up to 20,000 new high-skilled jobs.
The property itself is being committed by Bruntwood and includes the Manchester Science Park in the vicinity of the University of Manchester, the Platform campus in Leeds and Cheshire’s Alderlay Park. Legal & General will inject an initial £180 million and both parties within the joint venture are to hold equal stakes. Bruntwood Scitech will be chaired by Bruntwood chief executive Chris Oglesby and Phil Kemp, the company’s CCO will lead it.
Companies attracted to the science and tech parks will have access to apply for venture capital funding from Legal & General. Promotion of regional science and technology is a key pillar of the government’s Brexit strategy around supporting countrywide economic development. Life sciences, AI and engineering and industrial technologies are key focuses and thought to hold the greatest potential as high value post-Brexit UK exports. However, the crux to success is, believes Legal & General chief executive Nigel Wilson not only the UK leading R&D breakthroughs but in the subsequent commercialisation of discoveries. A stated at the unveiling of the JV:
“Science and technology is one of the British industries that truly has a great long-term future. Too often in the past we haven’t put enough money into these industries to help to accelerate their growth.
“We lead the world in research in these areas, but too often commercialisation of that research has gone on elsewhere.”