Life sciences ‘on the verge of great growth’

The Midlands has a “huge opportunity” in life sciences, but it has to be wary of not running out of space for its successful companies to grow into.
The sector is the region’s fastest-growing and is being fuelled by the research and expertise in the universities.
Dr Lucille Alexander, head of research and enterprise partnerships at University of Leicester, said: “What we have realised is we are on the verge of great growth in the Midlands. We are now lined up to achieve that growth.”
Owen Sisk, group performance director of Irish group John Sisk, believes the Midlands is well-placed to take advantage of structural changes to the industry.
He said: “The game is changing. The blockbuster [drug] days are coming to an end. The big companies need to collaborate more. It is becoming a much more collaboratve environment.
“The research needs to be commercialised, it needs to be soft-landed, it needs to be scaled.
“There are a lot of the right ingredients here to make it happen.”
However Tim Garratt, managing director of Innes England, sounded a note of caution.
“There is a real opportunity,” he said. “But the danger is they go somewhere else, and go out of the region. We have stopped speculatively developing because the banks won’t fund it, understandably. But we have to find a way to build it.
“In Nottingham, the availability of space has gone down year on year since 2012. The demand is there, we don’t have the supply.”
Trevor Payne, director of estates at the University of Birmingham, added: “We have been collaborating with more than 200 companies in the life sciences sector, so I think we are well poised to take that forward.
“We have got a huge opportunity for inward investment because of the co-location options. You can immediately have access to the clinicians and academics.”