Imperial College London is to invest in a new facility at the Babraham Research Campus in Cambridge to support spin-out and scale-up companies, and maximize the impact of research from universities.
The move expands Imperial's capacity to support fast-growing science- and technology-based companies alongside its existing London facilities, including the College's new research and innovation district, Imperial West in White City.
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Babraham Bioscience Technologies Ltd (BBT) and Imperial have announced the signing of a long-term lease on BBSRC-owned land at the Babraham Research Campus.
Professor David Gann CBE, Vice President (Development & Innovation) at Imperial College London, said: "Our move to invest in facilities at Babraham underlines Imperial's commitment to create value from ideas, wherever we and our partners are best-placed to thrive.
"We are determined to help technology spin-outs with specialist support, and the space to grow and scale-up. This collaboration strengthens our ability to create conditions for science-based ventures to flourish, opening-up new opportunities and revenue streams to support the College's academic mission."
The development is led by Imperial College ThinkSpace, a provider of high quality laboratory and office workspaces to companies at every stage of their growth.
The first tenant will be Abzena plc, a biopharmaceutical firm which already employs over 90 staff on the Babraham campus. Abzena comprises two wholly owned subsidiary businesses - PolyTherics and Antitope - which work together to create better antibodies and proteins with enhanced therapeutic benefits. The new facility will allow both businesses' scientists and support teams to be housed in the same building, and in a cutting-edge R&D environment to support the work they undertake for their customers and the in-house R&D they do to broaden their technologies.
PolyTherics was established with intellectual property from research undertaken at Imperial College London and received investment from Imperial Innovations, the technology commercialization company founded as Imperial College London's technology transfer office. Innovations remains one of the largest shareholders in Abzena plc following its public listing in July 2014.
John Burt, CEO of Abzena, the new facility's first tenant, said: ''We are delighted that Imperial College London, BBSRC and BBT are working together to provide additional space for bioscience companies to grow on the Babraham Research Campus and Abzena looks forward to being the anchor tenant in the new building."
Imperial will construct an integrated office and laboratory building at Babraham to host enterprises established from the College's research, taking advantage of the Babraham campus' unique life sciences innovation environment to grow. Subject to detailed planning consent, Imperial will build a 49,500 sq ft facility, expected to be completed in late 2016. It is expected that BBT will manage the building on behalf of Imperial.
Dr Eulian Roberts, who leads the project for Imperial College ThinkSpace, said: "We warmly welcome Abzena as our first tenant and are pleased to be able to help this fast-growing company locate in its ideal geographical location.
"We want to see more of Imperial's ideas out in the marketplace, creating value and transforming lives. We also want to support ideas and businesses from other universities and research institutes. This development at Babraham significantly expands our offering to all of their fast-growing high-impact businesses."
David Parfrey, BBSRC's Executive Director, Finance and Campus Operations, said: "Babraham is where the UK Research and Innovation Campus vision started for BBSRC. This announcement with Imperial College London represents the next stage in its evolution. Following £44M of investment over the last four years we are delighted that Imperial College has endorsed the vision of a vibrant, collaborative campus that accelerates impact from bioscience by joining us in partnership on this new project. I am greatly looking forward to seeing the new building take shape next year and welcoming more dynamic bioscience companies to the Babraham community soon."
Derek Jones, BBT Chief Executive, added: "Imperial College building a facility on the campus strengthens the pre-eminent position of the Babraham Research Campus in the Cambridge bio cluster and provides opportunities for Imperial College spin-outs and established regional companies to work together. It really is a step-change for the campus."
Prof Michael Wakelam, Director of the Babraham Institute, said: "As an academic community we are delighted to have the opportunity to welcome Imperial College to Babraham and look forward to exploring how to maximize the engagement between our scientists and those in the College in order to build upon our research into understanding lifelong health and well-being."