The Oxford-Cambridge Arc has established a critical mass which is gaining momentum, with the core science, technology and engineering locations of Oxford, Cambridge and Milton Keynes reinvigorating the wider region. These three local economies have been very important in determining the success of the Arc over the past five years.
The importance of this critical mass of expertise and innovation have come to the fore over recent months. The leading position of the Arc’s scientists and technology innovators on the international stage has been underlined by the global challenge of COVID-19.
Contributions range from vaccine development and treatments driven by the region’s universities and pharmaceutical players, to specialist therapeutic equipment development by a coalition of technology and automotive companies. The common feature of the Arc’s COVID-19 response is innovation by global leaders.
The current crisis will inevitably have both medium and long-term implications for the role of the Arc and how it operates. However, what has become clear over recent months, is both its importance and potential.
We estimate the Arc will contribute almost 11% to UK GVA by 2050, up from 6% currently a gain not just for the region but the country as a whole. Such growth needs to be planned for, however. This not only requires the addition of physical floorspace, but also the need to accelerate accessibility within the core centres, as well support linkages across the Arc.
- The Oxford-Cambridge Arc stretches across 2.8m acres. It comprises just 5% of the UK’s landmass, but is home to 22% of the nation’s science park floor-space
- Up to 20 million sq ft of new lab and office space will be required in the Oxford-Cambridge Arc within the next two decades to keep pace with soaring demand, twice the volume of the previous 20 years
- The report estimates that the Arc will represent almost 11 percent of UK GVA by 2050, up from 6 percent today, equivalent to £100bn a year.
- In the last five years, rents in Oxford, Cambridge and Milton Keynes have skyrocketed by 74 percent, 32 percent and 28 percent respectively. In Oxford, prices have reached historic highs of £46.50 per sq ft, putting rents in the same bracket as those in Zone 2 in Central London.
- Demand for new office and labs floor space has been particularly strong, with more than 53% of the year’s take up targeting grade A space, the highest proportion on record since construction started on the new 500,000 sq ft AstraZeneca facility at Cambridge Biomedical Campus in 2015
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