Manchester's first open access biotech lab launches
Manchester's first open access laboratory has been launched today; providing early-stage biotech and medtech companies, as well as entrepreneurial individual scientists, with unrestricted, pay-as-you-go access to state-of-the-art facilities and multi-million pound equipment.
Based at Manchester Science Park, BiOspace is a joint venture between leading science and technology park operator, Manchester Science Partnerships (MSP), and one of its longstanding customers: multi-award winning biotechnology company, Protein Technologies Limited (PTL).
Crucially, in addition to the physical equipment, BiOspace’s customers will be able to access specialised training from experienced PhD scientists on drug discovery, protein production, diagnostics development and prototyping medical devices. BiOspace has been set up with the aim of providing innovative biotech and medtech start-ups, or even individual scientists and students, with a low cost and contract-free option to develop their bright ideas.
The new facility offers flexible access to prerequisites for research: lab-scale instrumentation for protein production/ purification and characterisation, molecular biology and cell culture facilities, compound screening readers, bioreactors, diagnostics development, low temperature storage, spectrometers, centrifuges, and fume hoods.
In addition, two other members of MSP’s 300-strong community have made their facilities and equipment available to BiOspace customers: Lucid, which offers expertise in electronics, user interaction, prototyping and for medical device design; and LIG Biowise, nanotechnology experts in the biotech sector.
Equipment and bench space at the lab are available on a daily basis, but can be booked for up to 12 months.
Thomas Renn, MSP Managing Director, said: “We’re passionate about supporting innovative businesses at every stage of their life cycle. The launch of this flexible new facility for very early-stage businesses is an important step. With reduced
With reduced overheads, and the business support network afforded by the MSP community, entrepreneurs have access to an environment conducive to measured risk-taking and meaningful collaboration – both essential elements of a thriving knowledge economy.
“We’re committed to providing open access to cutting edge facilities and are incredibly pleased to launch BiOspace with our partners at PTL.
“Promising start-ups now have the chance to base themselves in the heart of Manchester’s innovation district, in close proximity to our partner universities and NHS institutions, while accessing MSP’s facilities and networks on a flexible basis.
“Building on the launch of the open-access laboratory at our Alderley Park campus, we have an offer that is unrivalled in the UK, and compelling to an international customer base.”
Founded in 2010, PTL specialises in developing novel biotherapeutics and genetically engineered solutions to treat a variety of diseases. It has been one of the standout success stories of the North West biotech sector; receiving funding from Innovate UK, and global biomedical research foundation, the Wellcome Trust.
Not every start-up biotech is as prosperous, however, with 90 per cent struggling within their first three years, as a result of the high cash burn rate associated with research and development, due to equipment overheads and personnel costs.
Dr. Farid Khan, founder of BiOspace, and chair of Protein Technologies Ltd, explained how the new incubator helps to address this: “By providing pay-as-you-go access to multi-million pound equipment, and the expertise to accompany it, we’re removing barriers to bright, individual scientists developing tomorrow’s breakthrough treatments.
“Manchester has Europe’s largest student population, and ready access to grant funding through the Greater Manchester and Cheshire Life Sciences Fund and GM Academic Health Science Network, and the Business Growth Hub. The city region has a healthy mix of novel ideas, and the financial support to see them realised.
“BiOspace offers the ideal environment for interdisciplinary collaboration, with experts in biology, 3D printing, electronics and software development coworking in one facility.
“In essence, BiOspace offers incubation at the very earliest stage. The hope then is that as start-ups grow, they make the natural transition to the next stage of the MSP ecosystem facilities like the MedTech Centre, Bright Building’s Mi-IDEA and the BioHub – at Alderley Park’s Mereside campus, in Cheshire.”