Understanding the DNA of Cell and Gene Therapy real estate

23.3.23 2 MINUTE READ

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In this blog, Rob Beatson explores the unique real estate demands of CGT businesses and why investors and developers should pay attention.

Cell and gene therapy (CGT) is changing the face of healthcare. With the market set to grow from $5 billion in 2020 to a staggering $58 billion in 2026, the real estate implications are hard to ignore.

Specialisms across the life science sector all have their own specific requirements, but the CGT sphere is particularly challenging. Businesses in this sector have unique needs when it comes to location. Proximity to clinicians, the CGT research ecosystem, and hospitals with specific expertise is essential for research and development. Manufacturing facilities are equally demanding in terms of location due to the need to maintain the integrity of the products in advance of patient treatment.

Real estate investors and developers need to be aware of these distinct requirements.

By understanding and catering to the needs of CGT businesses, they can tap into a growing market that's transforming healthcare and creating a new type of demand.

Specialised facilities, such as cleanrooms and laboratories, are necessary to meet regulatory requirements and ensure the safe development of therapies. The transportation of patient materials requires specialized conditions, so making the choice of location critical. Being located near a hospital with very specific expertise is essential. 

The best case scenario? Having the entire cycle of events required for CGT located in close proximity - but there are few locations in the country that can offer all of this.

The importance of supporting our most successful clusters across Oxford and Cambridge cannot be underestimated if we are to maximise the potential of this sector in the UK. 

Supporting Key Clusters

CGT is a ground-breaking technology, but it's currently expensive. To drive down costs and boost innovation, it's crucial to invest in research, development, and the nurturing of key industry clusters. These clusters create a reinforcing loop that advances the technology and ensures its wider adoption.

By supporting key clusters, investors and developers contribute to the growth of innovation hubs while benefitting from the increasing demand for specialised real estate. By supporting the distinct growth by attracting the right kind of start-ups and mid-sized businesses they can have real impact on the long term health of this sector, and the nation.

New companies play a crucial role in developing techniques to drive down costs and extend the application of CGT technology. This makes it essential to be within the ecosystem for fostering innovation and reducing expenses.

Developing real estate projects that support the growth of CGT clusters has other multiple benefits, such as increased accessibility to resources, talent, and knowledge exchange. 

Scaling up to personalise medicine

Moderna's decision to locate its facility at Harwell highlights the importance of the experience and knowledge held within the local ecosystem. This strategic move showcases the importance of global standing clusters and their potential to attract keystone companies.

The firm’s arrival in Oxfordshire will now attract other businesses keen to collocate with the global giants - in the way that AstraZeneca's arrival in Cambridge attracted other fast-growing UK research businesses to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus

The CGT sector is attracting significant venture capital and public investment thanks to its cutting-edge technology and niche expertise but there are challenges surrounding NHS subsidies that have raised concerns among pharmaceutical companies, potentially affecting their continued investment in the UK market. 

Investors and developers should be mindful of these issues, as they have the potential to shape the growth and development of the CGT sector but the arrival of Moderna at Harwell could be a milestone moment for the UK industry as it seeks to become a global leader. 

The CGT sector's growth has led to a noticeable shift in real estate trends, particularly in Cambridge and Oxford with investors and developers capitalising on this growing market which is creating a new demand for specialised real estate. 

By understanding and addressing the unique needs of CGT businesses, investors and developers can tap into a growing market that's transforming healthcare and the future of Life Sciences real estate.

71% of Cambridge lab floorspace was taken CGT companies in 2022

67% of Oxford lab floorspace was taken CGT companies in 2022

15% of Cambridge office floorspace was taken by CGT companies in 2022


Our latest research report from our Life Sciences 2030 series explores the fastest growing area within the therapeutics market, Cell & Gene Therapy.

This report explores the evolution of CGT, market growth value, challenges, local considerations and real estate demands. 

Download now
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Rob Beatson

Partner, Business Space Agency

Highly experienced in developing and implementing strategic real estate advice to his clients, Rob is a safe pair of hands to help advise both developers and occupiers.

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