Oxford Properties Group and Novaxia have entered into a long-term strategic partnership to invest in and, primarily, develop a much needed new supply of life science real estate in France. Novaxia will act as development manager and co-asset manager alongside Oxford with the Partnership targeting approximately €1bn of investment over the next few years.
The fast growth of France’s life sciences sector has accelerated further following the COVID-19 pandemic, and become a key priority for the French government. Still, there is a critical lack of specialist technical real estate infrastructure to support this growth. The Partnership aims to bring forward new supply of space to help meet that demand and is already in active discussions with local regulators. It will announce its first investments in the near future, which are focused on the development of lab and research centres for biotech and medtech companies.
The first phase of the Partnership’s investment activity will focus on Paris, which is experiencing an acute supply shortage of lab and life sciences incubator space. Paris attracts 80% of all biotech venture capital funding in France, which doubled between 2020 and 2021 to €1.6bn and is expected to underpin growing demand for life sciences space. The Partnership will invest across France and is exploring other emerging markets such as Lyon and Strasbourg.
Joachim Azan, President and founder of Novaxia, said: “Novaxia is opening up to partnerships and breaking new ground by adding another string to its urban recycling bow. Following housing, Novaxia will recycle obsolete buildings into places of innovation in the life sciences. Following on from the project to install one of the largest incubators in Europe at the Hotel-Dieu Paris, Novaxia is developing the means to deploy suitable sites for the entire life sciences value chain throughout France (research laboratories, incubators, accelerators and production plants). Real estate will thus be the starting point for scientific innovation so that France retains its best researchers, its best companies and strengthens its scientific sovereignty.”
Pierre Leocadio, Head of Investment, Europe at Oxford Properties, commented: “Building a global life sciences business of scale remains one of Oxford’s highest priority investment strategies and France is one of our strongest conviction markets in Europe for growth. Having undertaken significant investment into strategic life science markets in North America and UK in recent years, our sights are firmly set on replicating those successes in France. Historically, France has been at the forefront of R&D in the fields of medicine and pharmaceuticals, it is, therefore, well-positioned to maintain this leadership position as technology continues to disrupt and accelerate new innovations in this sector. It boasts leading academic institutions, university hospitals and research institutes, plus robust access to financing—particularly from venture capital funds. We are aiming to invest approximately €1bn over the next few years to create highly-technical real estate infrastructure which can support the country’s fast-growing biotech and medtech industries. Alongside Novaxia, we want to be a leader in life sciences real estate investment in France. Powered by a shared vision, we have moved quickly to identify and evaluate several potential life science sites that are adaptable to the wide range of uses required by a rapidly growing life sciences ecosystem.”
Aude Landy-Berkowitz, Executive Director of Novaxia Developpement explained: “The development of Life Sciences requires a suitable real estate that meets the technical needs and uses of a community. Real estate in France today is not designed with this in mind. For example, there is a significant lack of L1 to L3 type laboratories and their development requires specific expertise. There are multiple and specific needs for water, air, overhead room or even in safety. This partnership will work on their future-proofed design and operating modes, imagining reversibility between laboratory and office. We will develop a real estate that is complementary and synergistic, adaptable with closed and shared spaces in the service of research and innovation. This partnership is a tremendous step forward for the Life Sciences community in France. The need is urgent, and we need to be able to develop innovation and research hubs that offer a real-estate pathway from small start-ups to large enterprises.”
Abby Shapiro, Senior Vice President & Head of Office, Retail and Life Sciences, Europe at Oxford Properties, added: “This strategic partnership with Novaxia will enable us to develop a large scale, dedicated life sciences portfolio in France. Novaxia has an excellent track record in real estate investment and development, taking a responsible and innovative approach to each of their projects, underpinned by a deep understanding of local market needs. Through this partnership, we will look to capitalise on our complementary skill sets. Oxford has a committed and permanent source of capital as well as a global viewpoint on best practices within the life sciences sector. Combined with Novaxia’s deep local market knowledge and relationships with local life science firms and key stakeholders, we believe we can offer a compelling solution to deliver the critically needed real estate infrastructure to help ensure France remains a leader in life sciences.”
Antoine Papiernik, Chairman & Managing Partner of Sofinnova, a world leader in investment in life sciences firms (start-ups, SMEs and ETIs) commented: “Novaxia and Oxford’s partnership confirms France as a key hub of the future for developing biotech and medtech innovations, and positions the country as a leader in Europe. This exciting partnership will grow the number of cutting-edge firms in France, allowing the country to reach the scale needed to attract much-needed international investment.”