Canary Wharf is a natural fit for hosting a brand-new life sciences hub, said Howard Dawber, Managing Director, Strategy at Canary Wharf Group, in an interview with MD+DI. “We see the whole of Canary Wharf as the location for life sciences,” he commented, noting that the area already is home to a big part of the NHS Transformation division as part of a Government Hub, along with the Medicines and Healthcare regulatory Agency, the General Pharmaceutical Council, and several life sciences companies.
The area also boasts residential accommodation, as well as office space and more than 300 shops and restaurants, and four grocery stores. “We've got every conceivable type of restaurant from fast food up to Silver Service,” Dawber said. “We've got leisure [activities] here,” he continued. “We're a 15-minute city where it's, it's all here on one site. That creates a fantastic working environment, we think, for any type of company, particularly fast-growing companies, where we've got room to expand, we’ve got a great, very sustainable environment around us with lots of green space.”
Canary Wharf’s proximity to London, where a lot of small life sciences companies are growing is beneficial. “What's happening at the moment is that London is developing IP, growing its small life sciences businesses, and they're not getting the space that they need,” Dawber said. “There's absolutely no space available right now at all. But we think we can answer that challenge and create a real successful cluster here in Canary Wharf.”
Of particular benefit for life sciences companies that East London, where Canary Wharf is based, has one of the most diverse populations on earth. “According to Bart’s Health NHS Trust, there are 97 different ethnicities statistically useful in their catchment area, which makes this a phenomenal place for genomic research or clinical trials,” he said.
Canary Wharf has a relationship with Bart’s, in which they are working together on plans for developing life sciences in East London. “They’ve got their own site at Whitechapel and we are in close contact with them and collaborating with them to make sure that the opportunities that that we're providing, are linked into to their clinical and research base and vice versa. We think we've worked very closely together and it's a great opportunity there for more collaboration.”
The life sciences cluster will begin with one building. “We see this this particular building as obviously going to be unique in the UK, the largest commercial lab building in Europe,” said Dawber. “It actually quadruples the amount of commercial lab space in London.”
In collaboration with Kadans Life Sciences, the building is being designed to be state-of-the-art. “It will have all of the plant, the equipment, built-in to handle the most demanding lab uses,” Dawber said. “This is not a compromise building,” Dawber stressed. “A lot of the lab space, not just London, but elsewhere, is converted office, converted from something else. This is going to be bespoke top-end lab space, with no compromise to it.”
“We're talking about a 22-story building, with labs on every floor,” Dawber explained. “Every single floor can be 100% lab” he said but noted that there will probably be some companies that function as part lab, part office facilities. Incubator space will be incorporated, as well.
Canary Wharf Group has a long track record of being a sustainable developer, Dawber said. “We have actually developed more sustainably certified office space than anybody else in the UK. We buy our electricity from renewable sources and have done since 2012.”
Dawber said the new building will open in 2026, but that they are open for business as of right now.
“We intend to provide space for businesses and organizations to move in in the meantime, so we will be growing the cluster at Canary Wharf, right from now,” he said.
He concluded by saying, “We’re committed to doing this. It's going to happen. It's not a vision, it’s not a dream. it's a plan.”