In a deal worth more than £200 million, one of the world’s largest property groups has acquired the 50 per cent shareholding of Harwell Campus that was held by private investors.
The acquisition is set to quicken the expansion of Harwell’s real estate portfolio and make the site one of the fastest growing dedicated to science and technology in the UK.
Zachary Vaughan, Head of Europe at Brookfield Asset Management’s Real Estate Group, said: “We look forward to working with our joint venture partner, HM Government, to accelerate the growth of Harwell Campus and to expand its presence as a globally important location for science research and breakthrough technologies.”
UK investment in tech firms grew by 44 per cent to £10.1bn in 2019, placing the UK third in the world behind the US and China, and demand for science and tech real estate has increased as a result. At Harwell, which has seen high demand from national research organisations, fast growth SME’s and multinationals, 165,000 sq ft of speculative development was fully let prior to practical completion in 2018 and lease negotiations are already underway for the latest 400,000 sq ft of development, due to be delivered by the end of 2021. A total of 1.5 million sq ft is to be developed by the mid-2020’s.
Last year saw significant investment from the government in the campus, including: a new digitisation and science research facility for the Natural History Museum (£180 million), the National Quantum Computing Centre (over £50 million), the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (£67 million), the Nucleic Acid Therapy Accelerator (£30 million) and the Extreme Photonics Application Centre (£81 million).
The private investor sellers are U and I Group Plc and Harwell Oxford Partners. William Cooper, who co-founded Harwell Oxford Partners with Angus Horner and Gordon Duncan, said:
“Everything has changed – global and sovereign resilience is paramount; Harwell is at the epicentre of this trend. What was a unique national asset is now positioned to emerge as the world’s leading location for science and technology.”
The public sector partners in the Joint Venture are the Science and Technology Facilities Council-UKRI and United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority. The Harwell Campus is managed by the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus joint venture partnership.