Babraham confirmed as global life science power player
A newly commissioned report led by Cambridge University underlines the credentials of Babraham Research Campus (BRC) as a UK and world-class power base for life science business.
The total GVA impact of the campus on the UK economy is now said to be £285 million. A remarkable 47 per cent of total funds raised by life science companies based on Cambridge region business & science parks in the three years prior to 2019 were secured by ventures located at BRC.
Fundraising for companies based on campus is accelerated by an average of 5.1 months and the amount of funds raised to date have increased by 10 per cent, the report says.
The market value of BRC’s top 14 companies now tops £4 billion – an average 7.2 per cent x return for investors. Campus tenant companies have attracted a significant amount of commercial investment over the last decade, raising over £1.2 billion to date, of which more than £300 million was received in 2018.
The number of people employed on-site increased by over 90 per cent from around 900 employees in 2011/12 to 1,700 in 2017/18.
The report says that BRC-based companies are 20 per cent larger by headcount than they otherwise would be if the campus did not exist. More than two-thirds of companies surveyed regarded their location on campus as being important to their fundraising.
Insights gained through the report will inform the future development of the campus, says CEO Derek Jones.
The research team was led by Cambridge Economic Associates and comprised the Cambridge University Centre for Business Research, Cambridge Econometrics, Savills and Professor Lisa Hall – Professor of Analytical Biotechnology, Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology at the University of Cambridge.
Babraham Research Campus specialises in supporting the creation and development of life science ventures in the early stage of incubation with ambition to scale to an IPO.
Jones argues that the uncertain viability of these types of companies makes them far less attractive tenants to more commercially orientated science parks.
The report also notes that the standard commercial science park offering of shell and core buildings on long leases lacking a scientific and entrepreneurial community is often unattractive to startup ventures and their investors.
The Babraham Research Campus proposition of access to specialised startup and scale-up space; shared environments and world-class science-led facilities within a stable and supported community has enabled these organisations to flourish. This, in turn, has led to faster growth in the life science sector in Cambridge according to the report.
The importance of the location is not lost on the companies which choose to locate at BRC. More than 75 per cent of the companies based on campus, who were surveyed as part of the research project, considered their location as either a ‘very important’ or ‘critically important’ factor in helping them access laboratory and office space on flexible and affordable terms.
The ownership of the majority of the campus companies surveyed has become more dispersed during the last five years. Campus companies have been able to attract funding from a wide range of international life science and technology backers including the IP Group, SV Health Investors, Morningside and Medixci Ventures and many global corporate fund venture investors such as Merck Ventures, SROne (GSK), Novartis Ventures and Pfizer Ventures.
These investors have supported campus tenants at different stages of their growth, from seed financing to Series B and C rounds and on to IPO.
Fundraising by the largest campus companies has been further facilitated by the University of Cambridge, primarily through its commercialisation arm Cambridge Enterprise in addition to Cambridge Innovation Capital – a preferred investor for the university.
Just over a third of BRC companies derive directly from research out of the University of Cambridge.
Since its inception in 2018, the inspirational [email protected] initiative has supported 11 startup ventures through its bio-incubator programme of access to labs, equipment and mentoring activities. The venture now has strategic support from AstraZeneca, MundiPharma, Life Arc, Eisai and BBSRC-UKRI.
As the new report shows, the campus is considered to be making a strong contribution to the overall Cambridgeshire sub-region and UK Life Sciences – particularly in generating jobs, enhancing the sector skill base and increasing the global impact and value from UK science.
Derek Jones said: “I am delighted to see that the findings from this report confirms our own internal data and anecdotal evidence of the impact of the campus.
“We have tried to ensure that the support we offer to life science companies, whether it be the provision of flexible lease structures; access to science capabilities; or the nurturing and engaging community, is impactful in terms of jobs, scientific progress and increased economic activity, both locally and for the UK as a whole. It appears in many respects that we have succeeded.”
Professor Wolf Reik, acting director of Babraham Institute added: “"We are excited to see publication of this informative report, which highlights key impacts created by collaborations across the Babraham Research Campus.
“The Babraham Research Campus is unique in bringing together the world-leading academic research of the Babraham Institute and the vibrant and growing ecosystem of the campus, with meaningful links existing at many different levels. These links are seen in collaborations, spin-out companies, joint funding, access to world class scientific facilities, training, and generally a better understanding of how fundamental science feeds into commercial developments with huge potential societal benefit.”
• Report data was collated in 2019 covering the period 2011-2018. To view the full report visit www.babraham.com. Then hit /media/2076/babraham-master-final-may-26th-2020.pdf