High Sheriff of Oxfordshire opens our new R&D laboratories

Imam Monawar Hussain, the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire and one of our trustees, officially opened our newly-converted class II R&D laboratories at the Wood Centre for Innovation alongside Jeremy Long, chair of the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP). Also at the event were founders of the two biotech companies that have taken space – David Llewellyn of DJS Antibodies and Peter Hamley of Samsara Therapeutics – and representative from Oxford Innovation, OxLEP and the Trust.

The Oxford Trust’s development of class II laboratory facilities is to answer the significant demand that has been seen in the last year from science and tech start-ups and SMEs for lab space in Oxford’s world-leading life sciences cluster, centred in Headington, delivering lifesaving developments such as the COVID-19 vaccine. The Trust has received £0.1 million in funding towards the £0.5m project via the Government’s Local Growth Fund, secured by OxLEP.

On unveiling the official plaque, Imam Monawar Hussain said: “As a member of the Trust’s board and the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire, I am pleased to open the new R&D lab space at the Wood Centre for Innovation to support science and tech start-ups at the forefront of research and more widely innovation in our region.”

Biotech start-up, DJS Antibodies has taken more than 2,000 sq ft of laboratory and office space for their nine staff and Samsara Therapeutics 1200 sq ft. Both companies are working on ground-breaking projects: DJS is developing therapeutics to treat the world’s most critical inflammatory diseases, a class of disease that accounts for more than 50% of deaths worldwide, and Samsara is discovering new therapies for extending healthy ageing and treating age-related genetic diseases. They have joined Barclays Eagle Labs, Low Carbon Hub, Lurtis, Spintex, Printpool and SSEN.

Steve Burgess, chief executive officer, The Oxford Trust, said: “We were honoured that the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire came to officially open our newly-converted labs alongside founders of the businesses who have recently joined our thriving innovation community. Now more than ever it’s vital that we continue to invest to support local innovators and entrepreneurs to develop ground-breaking ideas. It is thanks to OxLEP for securing the national government funding alongside the Trust’s investment that we have been able to accelerate the lab provision at our Centre to help support Oxfordshire’s dynamic innovation ecosystem.”

The laboratory conversion totals 3,300 sq ft of advanced R&D laboratory space for work at containment level 2 with climate control and air handling, supported by 500 sq ft of shared facilities for common equipment and specialist microscopy use, including liquid nitrogen storage, autoclave use, ultrapure water supply and a dark room facility. With phase 1 of the lab development complete and fully let, The Oxford Trust is now considering a phase 2 development to convert a further 3000 sq ft of class II lab space later this year. Exciting!