Bruntwood SciTech joins Glasgow’s tech sector in £30m investment

Met Tower, overlooking George Square

Manchester’s Bruntwood SciTech has unveiled a £30m scheme centred on Glasgow’s innovation district, as part of the expansion of its growing portfolio.

The venture follows the science and tech specialist property provider’s acquisition of Glasgow’s Met Tower from Osborne+Co for £16.2m.

This is the first investment in Scotland by the company which plans to turn the 14-storey city centre office building, which has been vacant since 2014, into a new hub for tech and digital businesses.

Bruntwood SciTech is a joint venture between investor and developer Bruntwood and Legal & General. It is focused on driving the growth of the science and technology sector.

Glasgow joins Bruntwood SciTech’s network of innovation districts which now spans seven locations and 11 campuses in Birmingham, Cambridge, Cheshire, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Oxford.

The campuses include Alderley Park, Innovation Birmingham, Manchester Science Park, ID Manchester, Platform in Leeds and Melbourn Science Park.

The plan is to transform the Grade B-listed former City of Glasgow College building into a hub where university spin-outs, start-ups, scale-ups, and large leading tech businesses can co-locate together and benefit from being in an innovative, collaborative tech cluster.

It is intended that Met Tower be net zero in operation following a transformation project that will retain as much of its existing fabric as possible, significantly reducing the embedded carbon impact of the re-development.

Businesses based at Met Tower will be able to access Bruntwood SciTech’s UK-wide network of innovation districts, allowing them to collaborate with a 500-strong specialist community of tech and science businesses, and will be provided with the specialist Innovation Services support which includes access to highly skilled STEM talent, new markets, funding and finance support and professional services advice.

Offering 113,000 sq ft of coworking, serviced and leased office space, Bruntwood SciTech will also be creating a shared breakout space on the ground floor, showers, lockers, secure cycle store and sports kit drying room, as well as a rooftop lounge to be used by its future community. It will also offer a cafe and other food & beverage amenities.

Work is expected to start later this year, subject to planning, and complete in 2024.

Kate Lawlor, chief executive of Bruntwood SciTech, said: “Glasgow has one of Europe’s most exciting, diverse tech and digital clusters with exceptional higher education institutions and clinical assets. Met Tower is in a brilliant location for these types of businesses and is perfectly placed to help create a hub in which they can scale, co-innovate and thrive.

“Glasgow’s science and tech sector is rapidly growing, having seen some of the highest growth in the whole of the UK in the past two years, and now makes up 28% of all jobs in the city. As a result it has retained its position in the top three leading tech cities in the UK outside of London.”

She added: “Our investment in Glasgow is for the long term, and as we’ve demonstrated in our other cities, we are committed to becoming embedded and driving forwards the growth of the knowledge economy and economic impact of the sector both in Glasgow and other parts of Scotland. This is our first in, hopefully, several brilliant projects in the country.”

Bruntwood SciTech said its expansion into Scotland signals its commitment to developing specialist ecosystems to support the growth of the UK science and tech sector, and the creation of more than 40,000 high value jobs over the next 10 years. As the Met Tower project develops, Bruntwood SciTech will be looking to recruit a locally based team in Glasgow.

Manchester-based OakNorth Bank has supported Bruntwood SciTech with the acquisition of Met Tower through the provision of an £8.6m acquisition loan and an agreement to provide up to £27m of additional funding to support the subsequent redevelopment of the building.

Chris Swarbrick, senior director of debt finance at OakNorth Bank, said: “The Met Tower development will be a stand-out project for Bruntwood SciTech, given its intentions to be net zero in operation, following a transformation project that will retain as much of its existing fabric as possible, significantly reducing the embedded carbon impact of the redevelopment.”

Ryden, Brodies and Addleshaw Goddard advised Bruntwood SciTech and Pinsents advised OakNorth on the transaction. Savills and DLA represented Osborne+Co.