Willmott Dixon scoops £60m science-research hub

Willmott Dixon has landed a deal to build a research and development lab in Manchester Science Park.

The £60m job will involve developing a 131,000 square foot laboratory space, known as Greenheys, across six floors in Manchester’s knowledge quarter at Oxford Road.

Three of the floors will be the headquarters for UK Biobank, a health-data research resource. Lab space belonging to UK Biobank will also include a new robotic freezer capable of storing and retrieving up to 20 million biological samples four times faster than current standards.

Willmott Dixon is building the facility for a joint venture comprising Bruntwood, Legal & General and the Greater Manchester Pension Fund.

The site will also include a number of containment labs for biological agents, which could include substances such as pathogens.

It will be built to the BREEAM ‘excellent’ sustainability standard, and is set to be the first lab space in the UK that is 100 per cent electric and net-zero carbon in both construction and operation, according to Willmott Dixon.

Its managing director for the north, Anthony Dillon, said the contractor would bring “a wealth of experience and innovation” to the project.

“In partnership with Bruntwood SciTech and UK Biobank, we will create a cutting-edge and sustainable hub for science innovation, which will be a catalyst for changing lives and creating opportunities for local people,” he added.

Dillon said Willmott Dixon had committed to invest £16.8m in local skills and businesses, which would include four T-level placements and 380 weeks of apprenticeship training.

Bruntwood SciTech development director Sam Darby said the facility would serve as a “catalyst for innovation in the life sciences sector”, adding: “With Willmott Dixon’s commitment to quality and sustainability, we are confident that together we will deliver a world-class facility that meets the needs of the scientific community and contributes positively to the Manchester region.”

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