Steve Taylor, director of strategy and operations for Birmingham Life Sciences Park
Steve Taylor, director of strategy and operations for Birmingham Life Sciences Park, at the University of Birmingham (UoB), updates BQ2 about the park’s evolution.
Life sciences is already a sizeable chunk of the region’s economy, employing roughly 23,000 people and with close to 700 companies working in the sector. Even for an industry well used to size and scale though, the life sciences park planned for a site just shy of 10 acres, in the city’s Selly Oak district will be something special.
With a projected investment of £171m, and the potential to create 2,200 jobs, it will be a landmark project for both the city, and its target sector. The park is being delivered by Birmingham Health Partners (BHP); an alliance between the UoB, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, and Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.
BHP is a strategic grouping, seeking to accelerate access to drugs, devices and diagnostics to deliver better treatments and care to patients throughout the West Midlands, and the park is very much its flagship project.
Taylor was brought in last November to oversee the transformation, strategic direction and development of the former industrial site, having previously headed several research teams and projects for the UoB. “We’re still developing the park’s offer, but the site should deliver around 500,000 sq ft of developable space in two phases,” he says. “The first will be an innovation hub for the UoB, with what we might call ‘entrepreneurial space’ and the potential for incubation space.
“That phase would probably account for up to a third of the space, and the second phase would be more traditional space for businesses who wanted to co-locate with the university, the clinics, the life sciences cluster and the Edgbaston Medical Quarter.
“We’re keen to engage with developers, but we’ve also been talking to the government, to the GBSLEP and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).”
An early GBSLEP investment was the catalyst for the site to be assembled and remediated, when it was owned by the city council. However, given the ever-increasing pressures on public sector resources, the appeal of support from a cash-rich development partner is clear.
“We’re open to discussions with any developer who could handle a project of this scale, but my preference would be for a developer-investor,” admits Taylor. “We presented at MIPIM 2018, the world’s largest property event, recently to ensure that people are aware of the potential of the park, and to make a business case for the scheme as a development and investment opportunity.
“We’re not working to a tight timetable, but already we’ve had good engagement, and Andy Street (the WMCA mayor) is very interested in how we take this forward.”
BHP’s managing director, John Williams, describes the life sciences park as a key element of his organisation’s strategic vision.
“Its a part of a suite of opportunities for start-ups on the UoB campus, including the BioHub, the BizzInn and Birmingham Research Park, which will help us deliver innovation at pace and scale across the wider West Midlands,” he says.
Our BQ Bulletin emails will land in your inbox at 7.30am, Monday to Friday, with a mix of the latest local business news, national news, and features to inspire you. Sign up here!
Click here to read our privacy statement