Greenheys Bruntwood SciTech p.Citypress

BDP is leading on design of the UK Biobank's headquarters. Credit: Bruntwood SciTech

UK Biobank confirms move to Manchester Science Park

It is official: the prominent biomedical research company will occupy three floors of Bruntwood SciTech’s proposed £60m replacement Greenheys Building – provided planning permission is secured.

UK Biobank collects, stores, and provides biological samples for health research. Its intention to open a purpose-built facility at Manchester Science Park was reported by Place North West in January.

The company has since been awarded £127.6m from the UK Research and Innovation Infrastructure Fund to assist with the expansion, including the purchase of robotic freezers for the company’s 20m biological samples.

UK Biobank’s proposed home is dependent on Bruntwood SciTech, a joint venture between Bruntwood and Legal & General, being successful in its planning application for a 131,000 sq ft lab on the site of the Greenheys building. The application was submitted to Manchester City Council earlier this month.

If planning application can be secured, Bruntwood SciTech aims to start on site this fall, with the facility ready to open in 2026.

Kath Mackay, director of life sciences at Bruntwood SciTech, said: “Manchester is a world-renowned hub for science and technology, and the ability for UK Biobank to grow here is testament to the quality of talent, innovation, and support within the city.

“The development of Greenheys represents the third phase of our masterplan to grow Manchester Science Park to more than 1m sq ft of cutting-edge life sciences and tech space which, critically, will support the creation of over 2,500 jobs as Manchester’s Oxford Road Corridor continues to thrive.”

UK Biobank would occupy the ground, mezzanine, and first floors in the seven-storey new Greenheys building, according to planning documents. Half of UK Biobank’s 250 staff would operate out of the Manchester lab, which would also double as the company’s headquarters.

“We are incredibly grateful to UKRI for their funding and support, which will enable us to consider new ways to enrich the data and make UK Biobank even more valuable for health research,” said Professor Sir Rory Collins, principal investigator and chief executive of UK Biobank.

“The improved technologies and capacity at our new home will also make it quicker and easier for researchers from around the world to conduct vital research into common and life-threatening diseases and enable new scientific discoveries that improve human health.”

UK Biobank hopes its future location will boost its relationship with the University of Manchester, allowing the two groups to collaborate on new treatments for illnesses.

“I’m very pleased that UK Biobank has chosen to move here as it is yet more evidence of how Manchester has become one of the world’s leading hubs for science and innovation,” said Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, president and vice-chancellor of The University of Manchester. Rothwell is also a member of UK Biobank’s Board.

She continued: “UK Biobank will be joining the community of stellar research organisations that are already working with The University of Manchester to make a difference across the UK and around the world.”

University of Manchester assisted Bruntwood SciTech, UKRI, Manchester City Council, and UK Biobank on developing the plans for the new building. Arcadis and Metro-Dynamics also worked with UK Biobank on its relocation, while the project team for the new building includes BDP, Silcock Leedham, DW Consulting, Deloitte, and Walker Sime.

The planning application reference number for the project is 136934/FO/2023 on the Manchester City Council planning portal.

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