Diagnostics firm to open key biobank facility as part of £7.6m HQ investment
Liverpool COVID testing specialist, BioGrad, is to open the UK’s second largest biobank facility in the city.
The move is part of a £7.6m investment into a new headquarters at Wavertree Technology Park.
In collaboration with the University of Leicester, BioGrad biobank has already welcomed up to 261,000 samples from the largest long-COVID study in the UK.
Further partnerships with Liverpool Women’s Hospital and three private research companies will see BioGrad bank more than one million human cell samples in its first year.
Biobanking is the process of preserving human tissue, either for research issues – such as COVID and long-term COVID studies – or for human application, taking cells out of a patient and putting them back in. This will allow BioGrad to take stem cells out of patients to store them for therapeutic use for other patients.
BioGrad’s new 10,000 sq ft biobank building will also give all parents the chance to preserve their stem cells within the North West, and the provision of non-invasive, prenatal testing and pregnancy testing.
The site will also be BioGrad’s fifth location in the Liverpool City Region, in addition to buildings in Liverpool Science Park, Bootle, Warrington and Liverpool John Lennon Airport, in addition to satellite sites in Oxford and London.
BioGrad says it is leading the way in laboratory-based learning, diagnostics and, most recently, COVID-19 testing, with a clear mission that everyone should have access to gold standard healthcare and education.
This latest development sees the company pivot away from COVID operations and move towards stem cell and regenerative medicine research.
Dr Natalie Kenny, BioGrad CEO, said: “Our incredible new headquarters, which will house the second largest biobank facility in the UK, represents an exciting new era for BioGrad as we move into stem cell and regenerative medicine research, alongside our continued education operations.
“It also demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the levelling up agenda – providing an open access biobank for the Liverpool City Region and North West, creating new jobs and opportunities in the sector, and in particular, supporting local, female-led businesses.”
She added: “We have always been fiercely proud to be a North West-based business. The good will that BioGrad has received from (Metroy Mayor) Steve Rotheram, the local authority and local residents in response to our COVID work and education and bursaries over the last seven years, as well as the support that Liverpool China Partnership has given us by bringing international business and students to our city, makes Liverpool our preferred choice of location for continued expansion.”
Officially opening the new BioGrad biobank, Steve Rotheram said: “The Liverpool City Region is home to some of the country’s leading clusters of innovation in life science and infectious disease control. But I believe that we have the capacity, the capability, and the creativity to put ourselves not only at the forefront of the UK, but global innovation.
“To help make that happen, we’re putting our money where our mouth is. We’ll be investing five per cent of our GVA in research and development over the next few years – that’s nearly double the Government’s national targets.”
He added: “I want to harness the strengths and expertise of the countless innovative businesses, like BioGrad, that call our region home, creating well paid, secure jobs and training opportunities and attracting greater investment into our economy. It’s great to see BioGrad expanding their presence in our region and I look forward to working with them to help our region reach its full potential.”
Next to the new BioGrad biobank building, a second site measuring a total 33,000 sq ft, will house the BioGrad Innovation Centre, a new hub for the local community and a space for city region-based, female-led science and tech SMEs to thrive in.
Set to be an eco-friendly and sustainable business centre, the BioGrad Innovation Centre plans to take its energy usage off grid by 2024.
The centre will house BioGrad Education, the UK’s laboratory-based learning provider for aspiring scientists who want to gain real experience in a real laboratory from real scientists, and which already has more than 500 partner schools across Europe and is contracted to provide science and education for eight of the top 10 schools in the UK, as well as the top one per cent of schools in Europe.
The investment has also seen 40 members of existing staff upskilled and promoted into new roles at the new headquarters and the existing location at Liverpool Science Park.