University resurrects £26m Pankhurst Institute plans

The University of Manchester is set to bring forward a health technology research hub, with plans in place to refurbish and extend an existing building on its campus, as well as taking space in MSP’s CityLabs development.

The £26m project is looking to accelerate the use of advanced materials and digital technologies in health innovation, along with providing research space, PhD programmes, and supporting healthcare providers including early stage trials, organisation, and procurement.

Previous plans for a standalone building for the Pankhurst Institute came forward in 2017 with a RIBA design competition, but this was shelved later the same year.

Under the refreshed plans, the University is looking to refurbish and extend the former Natwest building on Oxford Road; at a later stage, part of the Pankhurst Institute’s functions will move to the planned CityLabs 4.0, being brought forward by Manchester Science Partnerships.

CityLabs 1.0 is already complete, while CityLabs 2.0 is currently under construction; the entire 92,000 sq ft building is pre-let to global molecular diagnostics company Qiagen, and is being built by Sir Robert McAlpine.

The area around CityLabs benefits from a strategic regeneration framework and is set to see more than 4m sq ft of development by 2025, focussed on four sites offering commercial space for science, health, and technology. CityLabs 3.0 and 4.0 are likely to be next schemes to come forward at the site.

The University has worked up the proposals for the Pankhurst Institute alongside Manchester Science Partnerships – backed by Bruntwood – the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust; and Health Innovation Manchester.

Funding will be split between the partners: the University will provide £13.4m of capital and revenue funding; MSP will provide £4m; the Alan Turing Institute £1.5m; and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council a further £1.1m.

The original Pankhurst Institute was expected to cost around £40m,but the University scrapped a tender for an architect-led multidisciplinary team, stating procurement had been “discontinued due to external funding issues”.

The 12,000 sq ft building was set to be backed by £20m of Government funding, with a location within the Oxford Road Corridor, likely near MSP’s existing CityLabs 1.0.

The University is also pitched for £5m of Local Growth Fund money, due to be signed off the GMCA’s Local Enterprise Partnership at a meeting next week; this is due to be matched by £7.2m of additional capital investment.

A report to the LEP said the institute would fill “a critical gap in the Greater Manchester health innovation ecosystem” and would “ exploit the University of Manchester’s strengths in advanced materials, digital technology and precision medicine to drive health benefit, business growth, productivity-gain and employment in Greater Manchester”.

A full business case for the project has been submitted to the GMCA for approval.

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