News release

UK life sciences real estate sector targeted by up to £15bn of capital

Growing sector has already seen £1.6bn deployed in UK

February 11, 2021

The latest research from leading real estate adviser JLL has estimated that there is up to £15bn of capital allocated to UK life sciences real estate, of which less than 10% has been deployed to date.

The UK’s life sciences sector has grown to become a standalone real estate asset class and has seen a 166% increase in the volume of real estate transactions in the last three years. The wall of capital currently targeting the sector is from a broad spectrum of domestic and international institutional investors keen to access the burgeoning area that is underpinned by strong fundamentals.

Additional research from BioCity has demonstrated that the life sciences industry has continued to grow at pace over the last decade with the number of start-ups produced by the sector increasing by 84% between 2014 and 2018 compared to 2010-2014.

Globally JLL cited that there is up to £65bn allocated to the life sciences real estate, with around 23% of this earmarked for the UK. Venture capital raised on a global scale for life sciences increased from £14.6bn to £26bn in 2020 according to the BioIndustry Association, driving occupational demand in the sector. The United States remains the largest life sciences real estate market where institutional investment into life science assets is well-established. The sector is expanding across Europe with the UK at the forefront of this growth with a number of established clusters and hubs.

Alistair Meadows, head of investor and developer clients at JLL, said: “2020 saw exponential growth in investor interest for life sciences. Institutional investors are now building global strategies and allocating capital to life sciences as part of their alternative real estate strategies.  Given the significant imbalance between this rapidly rising capital demand and lack of existing supply, investors are seeking developer/operator expertise to access the market.  AXA IM’s acquisition of the Kadans Science Partners platform, the largest M&A life sciences corporate acquisition in Europe last year, is testament to this approach. 

“Further investor and developer strategies, which are focused on the existing and emerging UK and European clusters for science and technology, include examining the conversion of existing office and retail assets to lab enable uses, and joint venture development partnerships with universities and public sector bodies.”

The UK’s ‘Golden Triangle’ of London, Oxford and Cambridge is a globally significant cluster of technology, life sciences, research and development that can compete internationally with the established hubs in Silicon Valley - San Francisco and Boston-Cambridge. According to BioCity the Golden Triangle produced just over 40% of life sciences start-ups between 2014 and 2018 and accounted for around 70% of start-up investment targeted at the sector. In addition to the Golden Triangle JLL has identified established life sciences markets in Bristol, Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow. Other cities including Newcastle, Birmingham and Cardiff are beginning to see the life sciences sector emerge in their real estate markets.

JLL cited that the UK’s Industrial Strategy and government support for the sector combined with the record levels of equity finance that it is able to secure will ensure its continued growth and the demand for real estate to support this. The BioIndustry Association found that a record £2.8bn was raised in equity finance by the UK sector in 2020, more than any other European country, representing 24% of Europe’s total. These levels of investment also marked the best ever year for UK life sciences and represented double what was raised the previous year and 10-times the total raised in 2012.

Dr Glenn Crocker, head of life sciences at JLL, concluded: “The life sciences sector has come of age. Technologies that have had so much potential for many years are starting to deliver and investors are responding by placing big bets on the future growth of the sector. This is feeding through into unprecedented demand for the specialist real estate facilities needed by growing life science companies. Covid-19 has only accelerated a process that was well underway at the start of 2020 and which we expect to continue for many years to come.”

Find out more about our Property Predictions for 2021 here.


About JLL

JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. JLL shapes the future of real estate for a better world by using the most advanced technology to create rewarding opportunities, amazing spaces and sustainable real estate solutions for our clients, our people and our communities. JLL is a Fortune 500 company with annual revenue of $16.6 billion, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of more than 91,000 as of December 31, 2020. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit jll.com.