Newcastle Helix is the UK’s biggest urban development of its kind outside of London and has entered its next phase of development. 

The £350m flagship project, brings together a community of academics, industry leaders, businesses and top researchers. It combines prestigious commercial and residential space with first-class research and education facilities – right in the heart of Newcastle’s city centre. All 24-acres is dedicated to helping everyone live better lives.

It is a partnership between Newcastle University, Newcastle City Council and Legal & General and is already home to the Newcastle University’s award-winning Urban Sciences Building and The Core – a seven-floor home for science, digital and innovation-led businesses. Construction is well underway for a new £29m Learning and Teaching Centre and a £50m building that will house three national centres – the National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA), National Innovation Centre for Data (NICD) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Innovation Observatory. The Biosphere will be the next building to open its doors to businesses.

A new hot spot for life sciences 

The Biosphere will provide a brand-new home for life science and innovation companies. Opening in November 2018, this new 90,000 sq. ft purpose-built £25m facility will provide high quality lab and Grade A offices for companies involved in the application and commercialisation of life science research and development. As well as satisfying commercial laboratory demand, the new conferencing space will create a hub for the sector to meet, share ideas, collaborate and innovate.

The Biosphere will also offer a bespoke programme of support, including expert advice and industry knowledge to help businesses to grow and develop – supporting the journey from world-class research to the commercialisation of products and services.  

In addition, a strategic relationship has been formed with One Nucleus – a not-for-profit international membership organisation that supports organisations working within life sciences.  This relationship means new and existing tenants will receive complimentary membership, giving them access to a wider life science network. It will also support them to raise their profile within the sector and provide additional benefits such as discounts. 

You can’t deny the impressive technical specification of this £25m project – developed by a design team led by Aura alongside award-winning architects Ryder, who have been supported by leading industry specialists including CAM-SCI, ensuring the building meets the needs of the life science sector.

This hot spot for life science companies is already proving to be popular, not only because of its technical specification, but because it’s at the heart of the North East’s £1.1bn life sciences ecosystem and based in of one of the fastest growing cities in the UK – Newcastle. 

The fact that it is based on Newcastle Helix means businesses can access expertise from onsite neighbours such as the NICD and NICA, both nationally significant centres of excellence in their fields, as well as the NIHR Innovation Observatory – a world-first in using big data analytics and machine learning to study global health innovation. The opportunity to locate alongside digital SMEs in adjacent tech hubs and like-minded businesses also provides added value for businesses. 

For the life sciences sector the facility is close to Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, a leader in clinical trials and Newcastle and Northumbria universities. The city is nationally and internationally connected, and the fact that it is in close proximity to Newcastle International Airport (20 minutes) and 2hrs 45mins away from London on the train is also an advantage. 

Life science businesses have easy access to assets that support the whole bench to bedside pathway. From support networks such as Bionow and First for Pharma, to four world-class universities, to the UK’s top performing Clinical Research Network, to CROs and CDMOs, and centres of excellence in precision medicine, MedTech, and clinical trials.  It is also home to CPI’s National Biologics Manufacturing Centre, which is within an hour’s drive. 

Catherine Walker, Inward Investment Director, Invest Newcastle said: “The network of expertise and community of like-minded people is really adding value for businesses who are choosing to base themselves on Newcastle Helix. The Biosphere has already exceeded occupancy expectations with a significant proportion of the facility already assigned to life science companies. This unique facility has really helped to complement our offer to the life sciences sector. It really is so much more than a building, it is a place where business can learn, grow and innovate.” 

At a glance: 

  • Purpose-built 90,000 sq. facility for ambitious life science companies
  • High quality laboratory and office space 
  • Three floors of containment level 2 fitted labs and write up areas with shared wash-up facilities
  • One unfitted floor remaining, suitable for bespoke chemistry labs
  • Grade A office suite and conference space (for up to 80 people).  
  • Arranged over seven floors, based on a 6.6m grid layout

Not only is The Biosphere nearing completion, work has also started on a £65m private-sector funded building. The Lumen is a flagship 108,000 sq. ft grade A office development aimed at scientific and tech businesses. This will complement the like-minded community on site, providing collaboration and growth opportunities within the Newcastle Helix eco-system. 

The value of collaboration 

More than 200 life science and healthcare companies base themselves in the North East, including Newcastle-based QuantuMDx, who are dedicated to improving and democratising global health by providing transformative diagnostics. They benefited from basing themselves in the city and collaborating with both Newcastle and Northumbria University.  

“Locating our HQ in the innovative North East – in preference to the ‘biotech golden triangle” of Oxford/Cambridge/London – was a conscious decision,” said Elaine Warburton, QuantuMDx’s Chief Executive.

“When we arrived in Newcastle six years ago, we found a city with an incredible genetics network alongside an excellent network of academic, industrial and key opinion leaders, all seeking to support a forward-looking young biotech, with a global vision, that wanted to change the world.

“We were looking for, and continue to do so, research scientists who can take pure research and apply it to everyday life. Newcastle and Northumbria Universities focus on this skill-set offering numerous high calibre graduates and postgraduates from all scientific disciplines including engineering, biology, chemistry, software development.

“This multidisciplinary approach is vital to be able to design and develop such a ground-breaking device as our Q-POC™ portable lab for low resource settings. Newcastle is also a wonderful city to attract staff from all over the globe – with such friendly people and a real buzz.”

A growing reputation 

It’s not just Newcastle Helix that is attracting businesses to the north, it’s the city’s growing reputation for research excellence in life sciences and innovation. It is home to one of the UK’s largest NHS trusts, with more specialist services than any other group of hospitals outside London. It has built a global reputation as a UK hotspot for clinical trials supported by pioneers at Newcastle and Northumbria University. The North East is also one of the strongest regions in the UK for exports of medical and pharmaceutical products, with the commercial base underpinned by a broad range of expertise in biotechnology and novel therapeutics.

Building on their reputation, Newcastle expects to attract further innovative businesses to the city, many of whom will call Newcastle Helix home.

If you are looking to expand or relocate your business contact Invest Newcastle on 0191 440 5761 or email