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LiveL@bs at Babraham Research Campus part of ‘growing feeling of community on site’





Babraham Research Campus has opened a fourth lab for use by Cambridge pharma start-ups, taking the total available space to 2,400 sq ft.

The LiveL@bs facility was opened as the 2023 Babraham Investor Conference concluded.

Ruth Campbell Lab Operations Manager at Babraham Research Campus. Picture: Keith Heppell
Ruth Campbell Lab Operations Manager at Babraham Research Campus. Picture: Keith Heppell

The R&D space is run by Babraham Research Campus’ lab operations manager Ruth Campbell and is overseen by director, science and entrepreneurship, Kathryn Chapman.

“I look after the facilities and support the companies coming through so they can focus on their projects,” Ruth says. “We’ve got companies working full time in LiveL@bs, and we’re also supporting 15 tenant companies using the specialist equipment we have, who pop in and out.

“The new space is an extra 600 sq ft lab and we’ve also totally redecorated across all four labs, holding on to what we had already and adding to them. Each lab is flexible; we try to make sure the spaces work so people doing similar kinds of work are alongside each other.

“The fourth lab will go to accelerator companies for their designated lab space but there is some space still available, and we’re looking to fill that within the next 12 months.

“We generally have spin-outs from large companies so one has spun out from the Babraham Institute… it’s spin-outs, plus the Accelerate@Babraham companies who are full of energy, then start-ups who are building up – it’s all starting up, smaller-scale projects.

“Three months is the shortest amount of time for use of the lab, after that it’s monthly rolling contracts.

Ruth Campbell Lab Operations Manager at Babraham Research Campus. Picture: Keith Heppell
Ruth Campbell Lab Operations Manager at Babraham Research Campus. Picture: Keith Heppell

“It probably takes a month to process an application as we have a biosafety committee to ensure you’re fulfilling all your legal responsibilities, risk assessments and so on, which slows things down a bit.

“We’re as supportive as we can be while they’re getting themselves established.”

There’s lots of staff on-site, including in-house health and safety expertise, and an engineer.

“There are specialist facilities for microbiology-type projects, you need general-purpose lab kit for that. There’s a lot of focus in the lab already on tissue culture-type equipment.”

Equipment includes safety cabinets for containment level 1 or 2, pipettes, microscopes, incubators, PCR machines, Western blotting, imaging, and plate readers.

The Babraham Investor Conference, the panel Kathryn Chapman, Louise Jopling, Jason Mellad, Barbara Domayne-Hayman and Andy Roberts. Picture: Keith Heppell
The Babraham Investor Conference, the panel Kathryn Chapman, Louise Jopling, Jason Mellad, Barbara Domayne-Hayman and Andy Roberts. Picture: Keith Heppell

Ruth, who has added a gas safety certificate and additional biosafety training to her skill set, answers to Kathryn, who took up her post from the Milner Institute late last year.

“She’s amazing, she’s so brilliant, she has so much energy and she’s brought a lot of people together who maybe weren’t sitting in rooms together before,” says Ruth. “There’s a growing feeling of community on site, which is great, especially post-Covid.

“There’s so many incredible people around and it’s nice to join them all up.”



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