• Laboratory Facilities in Oxford’s Life Sciences Cluster Officially Opened
    The High Sheriff of Oxford opens R&D lab facilities: By the plaque: Jeremy Long (Chair, OxLEP), Imam Monawar Hussain (High Sheriff of Oxfordshire), Steve Burgess (CEO, The Oxford Trust) Stairway - Peter Hamley (Samsara Therapeutics), Joe Illingworth and David Llewellyn (DJS Antibodies)
  • . Outside entrance to the Wood Centre for Innovation: Central: Jeremy Long (Chair, OxLEP); Imam Monawar Hussain (High Sheriff of Oxfordshire); Steve Burgess (CEO, The Oxford Trust). With representatives from The Oxford Trust, Oxford Innovation, Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, DJS Antibodies and Samsara Therapeutics.
  • Newly-converted laboratory space at the Wood Centre for Innovation

News & Views

Laboratory Facilities in Oxford’s Life Sciences Cluster Officially Opened

Jul 19 2021

The High Sheriff of Oxford performs Ceremony at Wood Centre for Innovation

The Oxford Trust has celebrated the official opening of newly–converted class II R&D laboratories at its Wood Centre for Innovation, in a ceremony conducted by The High Sheriff of Oxfordshire, Imam Monawar Hussain. Jeremy Long, chair of the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) and Steve Burgess of The Oxford Trust, the charity that owns the building were also amongst guests which included the founders of the two biotech companies that have taken space – David Llewellyn of DJS Antibodies and Peter Hamley of Samsara Therapeutics.

 Meeting demand for lab space

The facilities at the charity’s Oxford Trust’s Wood Centre for Innovation have been developed in response to recent significant demand from science and tech start-ups and SMEs for lab space in Oxford’s world-leading life sciences cluster, centred in Headington, which has delivered lifesaving developments such as the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Trust received £0.1 million in funding towards the £0.5m project via the Government’s Local Growth Fund, which was secured by OxLEP.

Unveiling the plaque, Imam Monawar Hussain said: “As a member of the Trust’s board and the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire, I am pleased to open the new R&D lab space at the Wood Centre for Innovation to support science and tech start-ups at the forefront of research and more widely innovation in our region.”

Biotech start-up, DJS Antibodies has taken more than 2,000 sq ft of laboratory and office space for its nine staff and are developing therapeutics for critical inflammatory diseases, a class of disease which accounts for more than 50% of deaths worldwide.

Samsara Therapeutics, which has taken up 1200 sq ft of space, are focused on discovering new therapies for extending healthy ageing and treating age-related genetic diseases. 

They have joined Barclays Eagle Labs, Low Carbon Hub, Lurtis, Spintex, Printpool and SSEN.

Steve Burgess, chief executive officer, The Oxford Trust, said: “We were honoured that the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire came to officially open our newly-converted labs alongside founders of the businesses who have recently joined our thriving innovation community. Now more than ever it’s vital that we continue to invest to support local innovators and entrepreneurs to develop ground-breaking ideas. It is thanks to OxLEP for securing the national government funding alongside the Trust’s investment that we have been able to accelerate the lab provision at our Centre to help support Oxfordshire’s dynamic innovation ecosystem.”

 Jeremy Long, chair of the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership said: “We are delighted to celebrate the official opening of these new cutting-edge laboratories, which further highlights the growing demand for such space from Oxfordshire’s world-class life sciences sector. Over the past year, we have all seen how the historic investment in R&D and expert capability in Oxfordshire-based life sciences facilities has been able to play a swift and highly effective role in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

 “We hope that the Local Growth Fund investment that we secured for this project will help the sector continue to build from its position of major strength. As the Local Enterprise Partnership for Oxfordshire, we will continue to play a vitally important role moving forward, securing investment and championing our significant sectors which – in turn – will enable new opportunities for the benefit of our wider communities too.”

 Advanced R&D space

The laboratory conversion totals 3,300 sq ft of advanced R&D laboratory space for work at containment level 2 with climate control and air handling, supported by 500 sq ft of shared facilities for common equipment and specialist microscopy use, including liquid nitrogen storage, autoclave use, ultrapure water supply and a dark room facility. 

With phase 1 of the lab development complete and fully let, The Oxford Trust is now considering a phase 2 development to convert a further 3000 sq ft of class II lab space later this year.

 Surrounded by 15-acres of woodland, the Wood Centre for Innovation is within easy reach of the clinical and medical research facilities at the University of Oxford’s Old Road Campus, major research hospitals, and Oxford Brookes University.

The Trust’s two innovation centres – the Wood Centre for Innovation and the Oxford Centre for Innovation in the city centre – are managed by a leading UK operator, Oxford Innovation, which supports a 28-strong community of science and tech start-ups and spinouts. The income from the innovation centres is invested into innovation programmes and the Trust’s Science Oxford education and engagement programmes to inspire the scientists and innovators of the future.

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