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Ventures Building opens to life science startups in Kent amid lab shortage

Kent lab space Image credit: Pioneer Group

A lab building totalling 14,000 square feet has opened its doors to life science startups and scaleups in Kent following a refurbishment project.

The project, which comes from UK-based lab developer Pioneer Group, is aiming to address the shortage of laboratory space in the South East of England.

The refurbished space, called Ventures Building, is located in Kent Science Park, which specialises in agritech, biotech and biopharma businesses. It is launching to provide research facilities for tech firms unable to access the well-established science cluster in Oxford and Cambridge.

Lab space shortages are a growing concern in several UK regions’ life science sectors, notably in the already established tech and research hubs of Oxford and Cambridge.

A report from the property consultancy firm Bidwells last year found there was almost zero lab availability in the Oxbridge area despite major demand.

“The South East of England is a globally renowned life sciences hub, but a severe lack of purpose-built space continues to hamper the region’s huge potential to transform into a US-style supercluster,” said Jeroen Houtzager, director at Pioneer Group.

“Companies at the Ventures Building will benefit from ‘plug and play’ labs, access to shared equipment and ample grow on space for future expansion.  

“Tenants at Kent Science Park are pioneering research and discovery into some of humanity’s most pressing issues – namely disease and food security – so it’s great to be relaunching this asset to provide much-needed start-up and scale-up space.”

It marks the latest project from Pioneer Group, which last year began construction on 20,000 square feet lab space in Scotland, located near the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush Campus. The area already has several notable tech and life science companies occupying it, including AMD, BioBest, and Cambrex.

Pioneer Group has said that while Scottish life science startups have raised £253m over the last five years, growth in the region was being held back by a shortage of lab development.