Culham becomes centre for biotech start-ups

From Left: Dawn Russell of Culham Science Centre, Guoliang Fu of GeneFirst, Dr Harry Lamble of SENSE Biodetection and Dr. Gwenael Pottiez of Neuro-Bio.

Culham Science Centre (CSC) is rapidly becoming a hub for growing biotechnology firms with GeneFirst, Neuro-Bio and SENSE Biodetection having recently moved to the site, leasing a collective 5,500 sq. ft. of laboratory and office space.

CSC has taken a strategic decision to make its laboratory space commercially viable for smaller biotech firms following a shortage of available space in Oxfordshire.

Incorporated last year, SENSE Biodetection already employs five people with plans to expand as R&D progresses. Founded by Dr. Harry Lamble, the organisation has recently secured funding for the development of biological assays and diagnostic tests for research and clinical applications.
Dr. Harry Lamble said: “Having searched for lab space within the Golden Triangle, I was delighted to discover that Culham has opened up its labs to smaller organisations and start-ups who are in need of an incubator location to progress. We are at a critical stage of our business and need the support and flexibility to be able to grow when the timing is right.”

Similarly Oxford University spinout, Neuro-Bio, founded by Baroness Professor Susan Greenfield, has moved to CSC due to the amount of lab space available at a competitive rate. The organisation is working on developing a new drug for Alzheimer’s Disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.

Dr. Gwenael Pottiez, Senior Bio Chemist, Neuro-Bio, said: “Our drugs will soon be going through pre-clinical trials and we have plans to recruit next year so it was vital for us to find a more permanent base. We have three labs, one meeting room and three offices at Culham and were forced to vacate our previous premises due to lack of space.”

GeneFirst Ltd is a molecular diagnostics company working predominately in the fields of infectious disease, cancer diagnostics and personalised medicine. Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Guoliang Fu, moved his four laboratory staff to CSC for the same reasons identified by Dr. Gwenael Pottiez and also has plans to increase headcount in the next few years.

CSC is owned by the UK Atomic Energy Authority and has typically been known for the development of fusion energy rather than biotechnology.

Dawn Russell, Commercial Property Manager, concludes: “We would like to officially welcome GeneFirst, Neuro-Bio and SENSE Biodetection to Culham Science Centre. The Culham community consists of a variety of science and technology firms and we are very pleased to be able to help smaller organisations who require lab space and a flexible base which will ultimately have a positive impact on the local economy.”

CSC is part of Science Vale Oxfordshire.