UBS Asset Management’s Real Estate & Private Markets and Reef Group (Reef) today announces a joint venture as the investor and co-developer for a major campus for life science businesses in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. The new campus, which will be one of the largest of its kind in the UK and Europe, will be built alongside GSK’s existing Global R&D centre in the town. UBS Asset Management and Reef are expected to deliver up to £900m of new investment alongside an estimated 1.4 million square feet of laboratory and office facilities, providing space for up to 5,000 new jobs.

Plans for the campus were initially announced in 2021 and build upon the existing presence of both GSK and Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC), an organisation which provides a supportive environment for companies to develop and commercialise cutting edge advanced therapeutics. The campus is intended to help meet the growing demand for state-of-the-art commercial and laboratory space from both emerging and established life science firms.

UBS Asset Management and Reef, experienced life science investors and developers already delivering major life science development projects across the world with a Gross Development Value in excess of £5 billion, will begin construction of the new campus in 2023 and – subject to planning permission – intend to open some elements of the site for business by 2025.

UBS and Reef are set to purchase 33 acres of land from GSK to develop the new campus. As part of this, GSK will gift land on the new campus to SBC to enable its expansion. To support this expansion, GSK and the Wellcome Trust have also agreed to waive a loan which they made to SBC in 2012.

Stevenage is already home to a world-leading life science cluster, including more than 40 life science companies and the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult. The vision for the new campus was developed in partnership with GSK, SBC, the UK Government, Stevenage Borough Council and the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Jonathan Hollick, Head of Real Estate EMEA (ex-DACH), Real Estate & Private Markets, UBS Asset Management, said: “We’re very proud to be working alongside our development partner Reef, to create a globally renowned innovation campus and thank GSK for their support. The UK has a unique opportunity to be a world leader in life science, and we’re committed to building on the excellent work that already takes place in Stevenage to support this ambition. We look forward to leveraging UBS’ expertise in building a sustainable centre of excellence that facilitates cutting edge R&D and creates thousands of skilled jobs.”

Piers Slater, Joint Chief Executive, Reef Group said: “Stevenage is set to be transformed into one of the UK’s most dynamic life sciences hubs, forming an integral part of the eco-system of the Golden Triangle. We are excited to be working with UBS to deliver a unique and world-leading development that will be an incredible catalyst for innovation in life sciences R&D and thank GSK for their support. Our vision is to bring together the best of academia and industry in a diverse and world-class mix of life sciences spaces, with digital infrastructure, sustainability and connectivity at their core.”

Tony Wood, Chief Scientific Officer Designate, GSK said: “We are delighted by the news that UBS Asset Management and Reef are to develop this exciting new campus, which will be built next to our UK R&D hub in Stevenage. The campus will add much-needed laboratory space and facilities for new companies to locate here, and further strengthen the UK life science ecosystem. GSK invests around £1bn a year into R&D in the UK and continuing to expand our extensive network of collaborations is critical to our future success.”

Dr Sally Ann Forsyth OBE, Chief Executive Officer, Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, said: “We welcome GSK’s land donation and the waiver of the original loan from GSK and the Wellcome Trust which supported the initial establishment and operations of SBC. These grants can now be used for the development of innovation facilities and related activities that enhance SBC’s offering as part of the new Campus development. The Stevenage campus is already a leading location for life science companies to develop and commercialise cutting edge therapeutics. It is a unique location that brings together major multinationals, the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult Manufacturing Centre and Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst’s 40+ biotech companies. This makes it a powerhouse for innovation and we are looking forward to working with Reef Group and other stakeholders to further develop the thriving life sciences campus in Stevenage.”

Rishi Sunak, The Chancellor of the Exchequer, said: “The pandemic showed how important the health and life sciences sector is to our daily lives and the immense capabilities we have here in the UK. The investment in this major new campus will encourage companies to start, grow and invest in the UK, boosting jobs and the economy and cementing the country as a global life sciences hub.”