Luminous double helix strands of abstract DNA, 3D render.
Credit: ConceptCafe / iStock

The Wellcome Trust will at least double the size of its Genome Campus at Hinxton, Cambridgeshire, with an estimated $1B investment in new research space, homes, infrastructure, and amenities across 315 acres. The aim is to “secure [the campus’s] status as a world-leading hub for genomics and biodata.”

Wellcome’s move will also strengthen the bioscience “Golden Triangle” between Oxford, Cambridge, and London.

The Wellcome Genome Campus opened in 1994, building on the establishment of the Wellcome Sanger Institute in 1993. The institute was responsible for sequencing one third of the human genome as a partner in the Human Genome Project.

Investment for the expansion’s first phase has been approved by the board of Wellcome, a charitable foundation and one of the world’s biggest funders of biomedical research. This first phase alone will be one of the largest contemporary investments in the U.K.’s life sciences infrastructure.

“The human genome was fully sequenced only 20 years ago, so the fields of genomics and biodata are still in their infancy, making them especially exciting. Breakthroughs in these fast-moving disciplines over the coming years have the potential to revolutionize how we diagnose, treat and prevent illness in the future,” said Julia Gillard, Chair of Wellcome.

The new development—for which Wellcome has allocated “hundreds of millions of pounds”—will reportedly be part of the foundation’s investment portfolio and generate a return to support its mission of supporting science to solve urgent health challenges.

South Cambridgeshire District Council granted planning permission in early 2021. Since then, Wellcome, teams on the campus, and development specialists Urban&Civic have been working on detailed aspects of the plans.

This first phase of the expansion will comprise development across the 315-acre extension by putting in place crucial infrastructure and readying parcels of land for building. It adds:

  • 180,000 square feet of new research space, plus a gym and swimming pool, shops and cafes, for the local community and people on campus
  • around 400 of the 1,500 total planned homes for people working on the site
  • an electrical grid throughout the site, connected to a new substation that will support renewable generation on site, along with other enabling work, roads and parking to underpin the expansion of the campus.

The plans also include:

  • upgrades to transport infrastructure, including to local road and cycle networks
  • new habitats for wildlife and increased biodiversity, open to the local community and integrated into existing wetlands.

Detailed building designs will be developed this year with the first buildings due for completion in early 2026.

Future plans include an additional 1.4mn square feet of laboratory and research space, the remaining homes, further amenities and community facilities, and a local primary school.

Wellcome envisions the campus as “a leading hub for genomic science in Europe, bringing together nearly 3,000 people including employees, PhD students and visiting workers between Sanger, EMBL-EBI and those in a range of specialist roles.”

Said Gillard, “Bringing great researchers together to share ideas and inspire one another is one of the best ways to cultivate new discoveries. Scientists at the Wellcome Genome Campus have already made remarkable contributions to our knowledge of life and health. Growing the campus now will accelerate advances and change even more lives for the better around the world.”

Also of Interest