The Science Park at Uxbridge consists of three buildings, which have been erected on the edge of the campus of Brunel University.
The first building was actually constructed by the tenant, The International Tin Research Institute, who paid the University a sum for a 99 year Lease of the land after which time the building and the land revert to the University. Construction of the International Tin Research Institute (now known as ITRI Limited) commenced April 1984 completed August 1985.
The money received for the Lease of the land as above was used to construct a building (known as Building No.1) for multiple occupancy, was capable of being partitioned into offices and laboratories. As tenants moved in the areas were adapted to their requirements. Construction commenced in November 1984 which was completed August 1985. These two buildings were Phase I of the Science Park.
Phase II is the third building (known as Building No.2) which was financed by a mortgage and was built to the specification of the original tenant’s office requirement with one area to be let separately for five years after which time the main tenant had an option to take this area into their Lease. The recession led to the opposite whereby the main tenant gradually released their existing areas. This building now has three tenants, one of these being a tenant who outgrew their space in Building No 1.
HRH Prince Charles officially opened Brunel Science Park in 1986.
The Science Park over the years has evolved not only in what are known as the three science park buildings on a corner of the University campus fronting Kingston Lane, but wherever opportunities have arisen, as it has looked after and encouraged companies in other parts of the campuses, both at Uxbridge and Runnymed (known as the Science Centre) and therefore the Science Park is looked at conceptually rather than as a number of buildings. The companies at Runnymede have all been new companies and many of them have renovated their premises (formerly derelict).
Companies from the Science Park
The Science Park has attracted many international and also large companies such as Air Products, Cookson, Xenova, Wyeth, Celltech, who have at different times brought in different groups of researchers to work alongside University personnel.
Cookson Group plc R&D occupied space at the Science Centre at Runnymede in the early nineties. Dr John Campbell, the Cookson CTO said “his staff related enthusiastically to the atmosphere of a University Campus and the group that were based there proved to be more productive than any other group in discovering new products to patent”
In addition, the Park has encouraged many start-up companies, two of which are now listed on the stock market, the first was Medirace, at that time a very small company which had grown out of a research company that had been formed by doctors from Hammersmith Hospital, they eventually took over Evans Pharmaceutical in ‘a David and Goliath act’ and moved away from the Science Park, and are now known as Medeva. Last year, Celltech acquired Medeva for £550 million and, interestingly enough, Celltech was another company that had taken space within the Science Park remit as previously mentioned.
The second company which deserves to be mentioned is Biocompatibles Limited which started off in the Science Park as one of the first tenants taking an area of 1700 square feet, it was formed to exploit the patents of Professor Dennis Chapman. They developed, through lipids, a coating on medical devices that prevented the clotting of blood, which often caused premature death following surgery.
The products applications range from moisturisers right through to heart valves, stents, and contact lenses. Biocompactibles worked exceptionally well with the University. They took on one of Brunel’s academic staff, sponsored PhD students and university workshops when they could, and worked on combined projects. These two companies now employ nearly 3,000 people.
Another company that is going well is Anson Medical and its founder Tony Anson was one of the ‘stars’ in the Times supplement which was published to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Brunel’s Park. For growth purposes Anson Medical moved off the science park and has recently been purchased for many millions by Lombard Medical Plc, which is a new company set up in October 2000 to put together a group of companies exploiting a high growth area of medical devices, principally in the cardio-vascular area.
It is interesting that the Chairman of that group is Mr Alistair Taylor formerly the Managing Director of Biocompactibles when they went to the market and of course he was introduced to Tony Anson when a tenant in the Science Park. Tony Anson always said he would show his appreciation to the University when he had made enough money from his company and he has kept his word by donating £100K to the University for a dedicated research fund for the engineering of new medical products.
Other companies destined for the stock market are Corac Plc and Aspex Technlogy Limited. Corac Plc grew out of the inventions of Dr Richard Gozdawa who has actually won four SMART Awards; it is believed that he is the only person in this country who has achieved this recognition. The company is going to the market with a new magnetic compressor that uses air as a lubricant, which has tremendous potential, both for the pharmaceutical and the food industry.
Over the years Dr Gozdawa has gained joint research grants for the University, maximum being the SERC Grant of nearly £70,000, for the development of a dry gas seal for applications with hazardous gases associated with gas bearings. He has also used the University workshops to test his gas turbine high-speed generators. Aspex Technology Limited grew out of the Electrical Engineering Department and includes several researchers from that department. They specialise in parallel computer technology research and development.
A different company altogether is Cascade Scientific Limited who brought to the University equipment with £5 million including the finest lon Microbe available, the first Lifetime machine in the UK and the first Total Xray Reflection Fluorescence (TXRF) instrument and the first ultra low energy SIMS, as well as the first CAMECA SIMS in any laboratory in the world. Cascade’s customers include National Semi-Conductors, Motorola, Digital, Intel, Phillips, BP, etc, complementing the excellent facility offered by the University’s Experimental Techniques Centre. They give their services free to University researchers and are accepted as the centre of excellent for Europe.
The next company to go to the stock market could well be Active Silicon who research, design, develop and manufacture electronic and computer systems, and video products which are sold worldwide. They have just agreed to sponsor two researchers in the Department of Systems Engineering in the division of Visual and Virtual Reality.
The Science Park over the years has received many important visitors not only in the UK but also all over the world – generally, Ministers of overseas governments with large delegations. At the tenth anniversary our then Minister of State for Science and Technology in the Government was Ian Taylor and when he visited he said the following: “Brunel was pioneering development of Science Park and a leading example to others”. The then MP for Uxbridge, Sir Michael Shersby, said, “the park was a vital part of the University”.
As well as the Science Park being known internationally it has played a significant part in the growth of Science Parks in the United Kingdom. The Director has been responsible for advising on the setting up of many Science Parks as well as being active in the United Kingdom Science Park Association.
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