West Midlands: the UK’s next tech powerhouse?
Bruntwood SciTech has received planning permission for its £210m Birmingham Health Innovation Campus, positioning the West Midlands to become a centre for the world’s fastest growing tech sector.
No 1 Birmingham Innovation Campus, the first phase of the development, will offer 133,000 sq ft of lab and office space designed for health innovation and life sciences businesses.
Focusing on companies working in medtech, precision medicines, biopharma and digital healthcare, the building will include the home of the University of Birmingham’s Precision Health Technologies Accelerator (PHTA).
Last year, the healthtech sector raised $65bn in venture capital – more than any other sector in 2020 and a 45% increase from the year before. In the UK, healthtech investment has remained steady at $2.3bn, far below market-leading fintech, according to the 2021 Tech Nation report.
However, having been designated a life science opportunity zone by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the West Midlands is poised to be one of the leading regions for the sector in coming years.
Although there are life science clusters in places like London and Cambridge, scarcity of smart, sustainable, purpose-built lab space that meets the sector’s requirements means regions that develop it can compete with those cities. Bruntwood expects the PHTA to serve as a meeting point for businesses, academics and clinicians, which could act as a catalyst for a growing cluster in the area.
Bruntwood’s 10-year masterplan will provide up to 657,000 sq ft of state-of-the-art space for the life sciences sector, supporting the creation of more than 10,000 new jobs and contributing an estimated £400m of GVA to the regional economy by 2030.
David Hardman, managing director of Bruntwood SciTech Birmingham, said the development marks a “real milestone” in the region’s evolution as a healthtech powerhouse. He added: “The region has all the raw ingredients the sector needs – world-class universities, a number of specialist NHS Trusts, quality infrastructure and a growing cluster of SMEs – to support the journey from early R&D to manufacture and market adoption of new health products and services.
“The Campus will be the epicentre where all these come together and attract further inward investment to ensure the West Midlands has one of the country’s most exciting life sciences propositions for years to come.”
Targeting a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating, the building will include a range of features designed to reduce carbon emissions, including air source heat pumps, and other sustainability features like low-flow water taps and solar shading to reduce the need for cooling.
Birmingham Health Innovation Campus is being built in Selly Oak, in the heart of the University of Birmingham’s academic and clinical cluster with the first phase set to complete in 2023.
Tim Pile, chair of Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Healthcare innovation has been under the spotlight over the last 12 months and Birmingham Health Innovation Campus will undoubtedly help address the health needs that have emerged throughout Covid-19.
“The PHTA, which we have funded, highlights the way in which GBSLEP works in partnership with universities, businesses and local authorities to target investments in sectors and projects that will elevate our region, create jobs and put us on the global stage as a leader in innovative health and medical technologies. I look forward to the work commencing on site this summer.”