Work begins on new £21m, 91,000 sq ft specialist workplace for science and technology businesses in Manchester

The £21m, 91,000 sq ft redevelopment of Base at Manchester Science Park is now underway; marking another significant milestone in the evolution of the masterplan for the Park, as the city’s Oxford Road Corridor innovation district takes another step forward.

The development signifies a key chapter in Manchester’s economic recovery and underlines the strong demand from the science and technology sector.

A new specialist hub in the city, Base will offer workspace specifically designed for companies working in high growth, frontier sectors of Industry 4.0, low carbon, computer and energy technology, gaming and animation, building on the region’s internationally-recognised tech and manufacturing cluster. 

The five storey building will include office space and lab capability plus a dedicated workshop space for prototyping new or modifying existing products as well as a welcome lounge, break-out spaces, meeting rooms, and a roof terrace with accompanying event space. It will also be home to the new Manchester Innovation Activities Hub (MIAH).

The MIAH will be delivered by Circle Square-based The Blair Project and will provide a highly novel community innovation activities hub and vocational training centre dedicated to the rapid upskilling, reskilling and retraining of more than 5,000 local residents over the next 5 years. Focusing on the specialist technical skills associated with low carbon technologies and innovation. The MIAH will contribute to the growth of the city’s knowledge economy, helping to support the creation of over 1,000 high value jobs.

Base will be the first new development at Manchester Science Park to incorporate measures towards the achievement of Net Zero Carbon; including an A-rated EPC together with 750 m2 of PV solar power providing 20% of the building’s energy demand and reducing its carbon footprint by 22%, and a hybrid heating and cooling system utilising water as a heat transfer. Demand Side Response will also be integrated into the Building Management System to allow power to be drawn directly from the solar PV or battery storage. Battery capability is also being installed for future use, similar to that in place at the neighbouring Bright Building.

The surrounding area will also be redeveloped providing additional green space and areas to socialise or have external informal meetings on the campus, and to improve the West / East link through the campus for local residents and customers to the Oxford Road. This investment will include 50 new trees and ecological enhancements such as fruit trees, wild grasses, bird nest boxes, and below ground bumblebee hives.

Planning permission for the project was granted earlier this year and recently received £4m via the Greater Manchester Combined Authority as part of the Government’s Getting Building Fund to support the region’s economic recovery from the pandemic. A further £15.5m loan will be provided by the North West Evergreen Fund, managed by CBRE’s Investment Advisory team, part of CBRE Capital Advisors. 

Caddick has been appointed as the main contractor and will employ all directly-appointed staff and 90% of subcontractors from within a 10 mile radius of Base, including 21 apprentices.

Tom Renn, Managing Director, Bruntwood SciTech – Manchester, said: “Base will provide vital new infrastructure for some of the UK’s most innovative businesses at the cutting-edge of industry. It marks another stage of growth and the continued evolution of Manchester Science Park as a magnet to attract world-class science and tech businesses to the city’s specialist ecosystem.

“We’ve got a rich and deep understanding of the facilities, services and connections science and technology businesses need to form, scale and grow and a strong track record of making this happen through our unrivalled clinical, academic partner network.

“We’re looking forward to working with Caddick. Their commitment to the local supply chain and developing future industry talent via their apprenticeship programme, together with supporting local employment and developing the next generation of talent is more important now than ever.

“Testing, trialling and adopting new sustainable technologies will be at the forefront of Base, as well as working alongside the team at the MIAH to provide valuable opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds from across the city to learn new highly technical skills in a supportive and collaborative environment”.

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “This investment is a strong statement of confidence in Manchester’s ever-growing tech and innovation sector which will contribute to the city’s economic recovery and future success. 

“Base will generate jobs and skills training in the knowledge economy with pathways for city residents to access these opportunities.

Alec Bailey from Caddick Construction North West said: “Manchester Science Park is a high profile and innovative life sciences community. Caddick Construction is delighted to be delivering the design and build of this latest development which will boost the north west economy.

“We have previously worked with Bruntwood SciTech at Alderley Park and look forward to delivering another successful project with them.”

Dr Marilyn Comrie OBE, Director at The Blair Project, the organisation leading the new MIAH, explains:

“The low carbon economy presents so many opportunities for businesses and those looking for work across the region. Our role at the Manchester Innovation Activities Hub will be to fill the skills gaps within Greater Manchester’s innovation ecosystem, giving businesses what they need to succeed and developing a highly-skilled talent pool.

“The centre will provide access to industrial-grade equipment, workshop spaces and wrap around support to enable industry collaborations. Our ambition is to support Manchester in becoming the UK’s leader in the design, development and manufacturing of power electronics, machines and drives which are all essential in reducing emissions.”

The development, designed by Bridge Architects and supported by Walker Sime, Buro Happold, DW Consulting Engineers and BDP is expected to complete in March 2022. This latest phase of Manchester Science Park’s masterplan follows the successful opening of the Bright Building in 2018 and the completion of the neighbouring Citylabs 2.0 in July this year.

Visit the Base building page here.