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Bruntwood SciTech hails 'year of investment' as it scales up for new opportunities

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SciTech hails strong year of investment

Bruntwood SciTech - the 50:50 joint venture between Bruntwood and Legal & General – has reported its second year annual results for the period ending 30th September 2020.

The UK’s largest property platform dedicated to the growth of the science and technology sector reported a strong underlying performance after growing its revenues by more than a third (2020: £40.1m; 2019: £29.8m) and seeing gross profits reach £9.9m (2019: £3.9m).

Its portfolio of thriving innovation districts increased in value by £88.6m to £526.8m following a busy year of investment and development activity, as Bruntwood SciTech looked beyond the pandemic to new opportunities for long-term growth with significant highlights from across its network.

The ongoing expansion and evolution of Alderley Park continued at pace, with the UK’s largest single-site life science campus being selected as the location for one of the Lighthouse Lab national Covid-19 testing centres. Glasshouse – the new 150,000 sq ft hub for health-tech and digital healthcare companies, also opened at the Park this year.

In the West Midlands, Bruntwood SciTech gained planning permission for the £33m,120,000 sq ft development of Enterprise Wharf at Innovation Birmingham - the region’s leading digital tech campus. While in a major boost to the region’s life sciences infrastructure, Bruntwood SciTech unveiled a new partnership with the University of Birmingham to develop the new £210m Birmingham Health Innovation Campus, which is set to provide 675,000 sq ft of lab, office and incubation space and create more than 10,000 new jobs over the next decade.

Bruntwood SciTech also confirmed a new partnership with Sciontec Liverpool after taking a 25% stake in the public-private partnership to support the growth of the city’s science and technology sector within Liverpool’s £2bn Knowledge Quarter.

In Manchester, Citylabs 2.0 reached practical completion and will be home to global molecular diagnostics business, QIAGEN’s, new European Centre of Excellence for Precision Medicine. Work also began on the £21m redevelopment of Base at Manchester Science Park to provide specialist space for companies working in Industry 4.0, low carbon, computer and energy technology, gaming and animation.

And progress continued on the construction of Circle Square, the new city centre neighbourhood located in Manchester’s Oxford Road Corridor innovation district. Multinational construction equipment and software services specialist, Hilti, announced its plans to relocate its headquarters to No1 Circle Square, with Accenture unveiling No2 Circle Square as the location of their new regional hub.

Bruntwood SciTech maintains its target of growing its asset base to £1.2bn by 2025 as the long-term prospects of the UK’s science and technology sectors continue to strengthen following a year in which specialist space, particularly for life sciences businesses, outperformed the wider commercial property market.

Spearheading this growth will be a new chief executive, Kate Lawlor. Formerly Bruntwood SciTech’s finance director, who succeeded Phil Kemp in January 2021.

Commenting on the financial results, Chris Oglesby, executive chairman for Bruntwood SciTech, said: “The UK’s science and technology sectors have been two bright spots amid the economic challenges of the pandemic, as well as remaining central to the country’s long-term growth prospects. And our proposition is perfectly aligned to supporting each sector’s opportunities today and in the future.

“This is especially true in the regions, where we have a significant role to play in helping to realise the innovation potential of both established clusters and emerging locations outside of London and the South East.

“The construction of the Lighthouse Lab at Alderley Park is a great example of this model in action. Against the backdrop of a national emergency, by working in partnership and leveraging our network, we were able to establish critical new national scientific infrastructure from a standing start in just a matter of weeks.”

Managing director of Future Cities at Legal & General, John Cummins, added: “The Covid-19 pandemic has brought new attention to the life sciences sector, which is creating opportunities for investment and growth, and Bruntwood SciTech’s notable progress has come at a pivotal time. Throughout the year, we have continued to see appetite for investment in life sciences and have been putting society’s pension money to work to continue to foster and fund innovation. Aside from Covid-19, there continue to be major global health challenges which require urgent attention and therefore there will be plenty of opportunity for growth in the coming months and years. This will in turn drive demand for dedicated facilities, particularly across the emerging and well-developed ‘innovation hubs’.

“As demonstrated with its expanded portfolio this year, Bruntwood SciTech is supporting science and tech businesses of all sizes to thrive by creating places that nurture innovation and harness collaboration between enterprise and clinical and academic research institutions, which will continue to cement Britain’s position as a world leader in this space.”

In the year to 30th September 2020, Bruntwood SciTech reported a pre-tax loss of £7.6m (2019: £20.1m pre-tax profit) owing to exceptional losses incurred by a revaluation of its interest rate swaps following movements in the LIBOR rate and a write off its investment into Liverpool Sciontec.

The grant funding liabilities at the public-private partnership currently gives it a negative balance sheet value meaning any acquisition of its shares will automatically be incurred as a loss.

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