An organisation which started life as an attempt to build up the life sciences industry in Nottingham is now expanding across the country.
BioCity was launched on Pennyfoot Street in 2003 and has gone on to become one of the biggest concentrations of scientific talent in the UK, with nearly 700 people in a variety of businesses working in fields ranging from drug discovery to patent applications.
Since then, it has launched new ventures in Glasgow and Manchester and a new incubator on Nottingham’s Boots campus aimed at supporting firms working in health, beauty and wellness.
Now, a new building for its expanding tenants is being built alongside the original – a development which BioCity’s boss says is a big opportunity for Nottingham to shout about its strength in a key knowledge industry.
Dr Glenn Crocker, chief executive of BioCity, said:
“We started off in Nottingham and Nottingham is always going to be our headquarters.
“But we have expanded elsewhere and we are still looking at other opportunities,” he added.
“Nottingham has been a real success story for us, and what we have seen since then is a new facility in Scotland, the launch of MediCity at the Boots site here in Nottingham, and the BioHub at Alderly Park near Manchester.
“Manchester is going great guns and it’s going to be very important for us, particularly with the new £5 million investment fund.
“But we are still looking at other areas, and that is a question of places where there is demand, which is obviously around Oxford and Cambridge, and of a supply of facilities at the right price.
”We’ve got a few irons in the fire for our next move but we’re in no rush.”
While the firms it hosts in Nottingham employ several hundred people, BioCity itself has around 30 staff.
Mr Crocker says it will need to expand its team to cope with growth.
BioCity has expanded during a period when big pharmaceutical companies have been reducing there own research facilities and outsourcing the world to smaller specialist firms – known as contract research organisations (CROs).
BioCity has a significant number of CROs and other related niche scientific businesses, with the two buildings at its Pennyfoot Street site in Nottingham now nearly full and some of its tenants needing to expand further.
A new five-storey building for lifesciences is going to be built alongside BioCity on the corner of Huntingdon Street. The building is being funded by Nottingham City Council with support from D2N2, the local enterprise partnership.
The building will ultimately be home to another 200 people and Mr Crocker says its development gives Nottingham a major opportunity to flag up its status as a centre for high-tech skills.
“The new building is going to stand out and be something people will really notice. It is a massive statement about the strength of the industry and something which we should really be shouting about.
“In my view it is going to transform the area because when you put it together with BioCity you are going to have the best part of 1,000 people working in the same industry in the same area.”