Cambridge and Oxford will need around 40 football pitches worth of new lab space to accommodate the next five years of growth, a property consultancy has predicted.

Its new report says that in spite of Brexit, science and technology companies are looking to attract 20,000 new research and development workers by 2023.

Analysis, provided by Bidwells, estimates growth in demand for lab and research space of around 2.5m sq ft over the next five years.

The research was based on market data and interviews with 50 leading science and technology companies.

The space needed is the equivalent of 60 new labs or 40 football fields.


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This could add £2.8bn to the UK economy by 2023, boosting the science and tech sector that employs more than 90,000 people in the two cities and is worth an estimated £9.8bn.

“Oxbridge’s soaring S&T sectors are a huge UK success story but we must do everything to ensure the area can maintain its place as a global leader post-Brexit,” said Patrick McMahon, Senior Partner at Bidwells.

Brexit was not noted as a major challenge per se but the impact on recruitment of high skilled international talent is a real concern.

Cambridge and Oxford have been two of the UK’s economic success stories outside of London: attracting some of the world’s most advanced science and tech companies – from start-up satellite builders at Oxford’s Harwell campus to biomedical giant AstraZeneca Cambridge - through their two world leading universities and the pool of talent they provide.

It warned the government needs to adopt a ‘Cambridge or overseas’ mentality towards knowledge-intensive business and recognise many companies will relocate abroad if the area is no longer fit for purpose.