Yesterday Glenn Dunn and I attended London Property Alliance's webinar on Camden's Knowledge Quarter. The KQ is an area around King’s Cross, the Euston Road and Bloomsbury in London, which has a high density of institutions and businesses within the knowledge sector. A cluster of higher educational institutions, life sciences businesses and those operating in artificial intelligence have formed an innovation district.
If you weren't able to make it, here are our key takeaways:
Space is needed
There is currently a material under-supply of space available on the market and in the development pipeline. There is a concern that this will result in enterprises being forced to find alternatives outside of the KQ. This would undermine the KQ's cluster effect, which is a key part of its attraction.
New sites are needed for developments and to accommodate accelerator projects, which are spun out of institutions such as UCL and the Francis Crick Institute. This need varies from individual desks up to 6 digit square feet requirements for headquarters.
There has been a traditional reluctance for developers to build speculatively, but the nature of the sector is that the businesses which will need the space in 3-5 years' time might not even exist today. There is therefore a need to build investor confidence and awareness of the challenges and opportunities in the life sciences sector.
With an aging population, a non-cyclical market and government investment in the sector, life sciences are increasingly seen as a potential growth area.
Lab space needs to be changed, on average,10-15% annually, due to updates in equipment and working practices. Flexibility is therefore key to making the space work, however this needs to factored into the base build, so should be addressed with architects at an early stage.
Startups also need space that is flexible, to meet their needs and to allow them to grow, but they also need it to be affordable. These fledgling businesses require support to thrive and this is part of what the KQ seeks to achieve.
The KQ has a diverse and broad demographic, but it is necessary to create meaningful employment for local people. This is partly driven by an inclusive procurement process, but also co-curation of local initiatives. The social impact of the KQ on its community is at the forefront of its agenda.
Creating buildings which are open, accessible and sustainable, is as important to the KQ as creating commercial space. With stake holders in health, education and government, it should come as no surprise that there is a natural alignment with ESG criteria.
- Lisa Webb, CPA Board member; Gerald Eve – Partner (moderator)
- Jodie Eastwood, Knowledge Quarter London – Chief Executive Officer
- Daniel Pope, London Borough of Camden – Chief Planning Officer
- James Sheppard, Kadans Science Partner – Head of Commercial (UK & Ireland)
- Charles Walford, Stanhope – Director
Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it - Samuel Johnson