London-founded firm OpenCell has signed a deal to open its first ‘BioHotel’ in the capital. It plans to create a cluster of small labs available for short-term rent.
There will also be a lab coat laundry service, PPE vending machines and a store selling pipettes and other products on site.
The firm has agreed to take around 15,000 square feet of space as the first BioHotel location at the Westworks Building in White City, an area getting increasingly popular with the life sciences sector. It expects to launch the site in March.
OpenCell was founded in 2018 offering life science start-ups space in shipping containers converted into labs.
This new site will be the firm’s largest venue, showcasing its in-house developed modular labs and lab software.
Co-founder Helene Steiner said the concept of the new site is to “let companies focus on their tech instead of investing time and money into their infrastructure”.
Tenants do not have to commit to long-term leases and can agree on flexible lets. Steiner added there is a “focus on providing a one-stop-shop for everything life science needs”.
OpenCell, which is owned by Steiner and co-founder Dr Thomas Meany, is taking the space from landlord Cadillac Fairview and asset manager Stanhope at the business district and life sciences hub at White City Place.
The deal comes at a time when the UK biotech and life science sector is attracting high demand from investors, with a record £3 billion raised in the first three quarters of 2021, according to the BioIndustry Association and data firm Clarivate.
The original developers and investors at White City Place, Stanhope, Mitsui and AIMCo, bought the former BBC media village buildings in 2015 to create a business district of 900,000 square feet. Fashion and media companies are also present there.
David Camp, chief executive of property firm Stanhope, said the move to invest by Mitsui and AIMCo in 2015 “has paid off with the success of the pharma and life sciences hub at White City Place”. The site is now owned by Cadillac Fairview.
White City Place, close to Imperial College London’s White City campus, is home to businesses including GammaDelta Therapeutics, Novartis and biopharmaceutical firm Autolus.
Stanhope’s Camp said a number of groups have moved to the area “to be closer to where the action is”.
He thinks the life sciences sector is not having a short-term boom, adding it “is on a big growth spurt” path.
Stanhope is working on three new buildings with Mitsui and AIMCo on the Gateway site at White City Place, including a speculative property with 500,000 square feet of lab enabled space.
Other areas where there are life sciences clusters in the capital include King’s Cross.
In the summer developer and landlord Derwent London invested over £200 million to buy sites on Euston Road and Tottenham Court Road. They are both in an area where there is a high concentration of academic, medical and scientific organisations.
Derwent’s boss Paul Williams said at the time: “There is very much growing demand for space from this sector [life sciences].”