Plans afoot for Citylabs 2

MSP and Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are already working on a second Citylabs-style project.

Chancellor George Osborne launched Citylabs yesterday which consists of 100,000 sq ft life sciences office and lab space at the former Royal Eye Hospital site in Oxford Road.

The idea is to bring industry and the health service together to speed up the commercialisation of ideas.

But MSP, which now stands for Manchester Science Partnerships rather than Parks, and the trust are now plotting the funding structure of “Citylabs 2” which could occupy space nearby.

Sir Michael Deegan, chief executive of the trust, told an audience at the launch that he wanted a £25m Citylabs 2 up and running by 2016 which would help small and medium-sized busineses develop digital health projects.

He said: “It would be a translational technology hub to further help develop biomedical research business.”

He added: “One or two parcels of land have been identified… I’ll be disappointed if we’re not moving forward with it.”

Chris Oglesby, the chief executive of Bruntwood which is MSP’s majority shareholder, said: “At the moment we’re fairly clear on the direction we need to work on with the funding model. This one [Citylabs] was conceived in the recession and we’re confident there will be further demand on the campus.”

So far Citylabs is around 70% full with the largest letting, around 40,000 sq ft, to Icon Developments which handles the analysis and development of programs that support clinical development. Diagnostics firm Elucigene has taken 9,000 sq ft, Manchester College 6,500 sq ft and the NHS Trust Charity 3,500 sq ft. Hitachi has also signed up for 1,500 sq ft.

The Citylabs project has been part funded by the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund), with senior debt provided by Lloyds Bank and the North West Evergreen Fund. Around 300 people are expected to work there and it is estimated it will boost Manchester’s economy by £57m.