Media Relations
  • Facility near Stevenage, East of England, expected to create more than 400 jobs
  • The 81,000 sqft (7,500 sqm) plant has been pre-let to Autolus Therapeutics for 20 years
  • Development partner Reef Estates overseeing the build, with completion due in May 2023

UBS Asset Management (UBS-AM) Real Estate & Private Markets (REPM) today announces that it is providing GBP 66 million in forward funding for a state-of-the-art pharmaceutical facility, pre-let to Autolus Therapeutics on a 20-year lease, working with development partner Reef Estates.

NASDAQ-listed biopharmaceutical company Autolus is focused on developing CAR T-cell therapies for cancer treatment. This involves re-programming patients’ immune T-cells so they can better recognise and kill cancer cells. This development will be the UK’s first purpose-built facility to manufacture such CAR T-cells, enabling commercialization of Autolus’s innovative technology. The facility is expected to create more than 400 jobs.

Stevenage’s cell and gene therapy cluster is already the third largest in the world and the town was recently classified as a High Potential Opportunity (HPO) zone by the UK Government, due to its position within the ‘golden triangle’ of academic centres at Oxford, Cambridge and London. As well as its proximity to leading scientists, it also benefits from access to major transport routes.

The development will focus on strong environmental credentials and is targeting an ‘Excellent’ BREEAM rating, a sustainability assessment only given to the top 10% of buildings. The build will be Net Zero, due in part to 75% off-site construction, while operational carbon emissions will be significantly reduced thanks to design features including heat source pumps and heat recovery systems.

Jon Hollick, Head of Real Estate EMEA ex DACH at UBS-AM REPM commented: “The life sciences sector is a key strategic area for our business – so we’re excited to partner with Reef on this facility that will become a globally-recognised hub of scientific innovation. Stevenage offers all the necessary structural drivers to support a thriving life sciences eco-system, including a supportive local authority, access to road and air transport, and a critical mass of existing biopharma companies.“

Will Rohleder, Development Director at Reef Group commented: “This has been a truly fantastic public / private partnership to realize such an important facility in Stevenage town centre. Autolus has committed to Stevenage, locating its manufacturing HQ in the town and creating more than 400 jobs. The Reef team look forward to working with all parties to complete this first phase and bring forward our wider life sciences vision for the town centre over the next few years”.

Matthew Durdy, Chief Executive Officer, Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult commented: “This coming together of some of the best names in finance, innovative property and cell therapy development is testament to the growing maturity of the cell and gene therapy industry in the UK, and the strength of the Stevenage cluster. With the help of Reef and the funding through UBS we see a powerful combination that will amplify our work with Autolus and accelerate access for patients in the UK and across the globe to these life-saving therapeutics”

Dr Sally Ann Forsyth OBE, Chief Executive Officer, Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst commented: “At Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC) we have built a world class cluster of excellence, accelerating the realisation of cutting-edge science to improve the health and quality of people’s lives. We are delighted to continue our relationship with Autolus, which has been based at SBC since 2018, as it moves onto its next stage of development, working with Reef to further strengthen the cluster here in Stevenage.”

Adrian Hawkins OBE, Chairman, Stevenage Development Board commented: “From our first meeting with Autolus in January 2021, the Regeneration Team at Stevenage Borough Council demonstrated both their clear ability, knowledge and speed in proposing sites and several contractors, which has since resulted in the swift progress to planning permission, now approved, for the new Autolus HQ, developed by Reef.”

UBS-AM REPM are working with development partner Reef Estates Limited, who will develop the site with Merit Health as the underlying contractor. Stevenage Borough Council is the vendor. Savills provided occupational advice. Investec are providing debt financing for the deal.

Media contacts

UBS Asset Management

UBS Asset Management is a large-scale asset manager with a presence in 23 markets. It offers investment capabilities and investment styles across all major traditional and alternative asset classes to institutions, wholesale intermediaries and wealth management clients around the world. It is a leading fund house in Europe, the largest mutual fund manager in Switzerland, the second largest fund of hedge funds manager and one of the largest real estate investment managers in the world.

Reef Group

Reef Group is an investment and development company that specialises in mixed use urban regeneration schemes across the UK. Reef currently has in excess of £3bn under development across multiple sectors including life science.