A Year in Review: why 2020 wasn’t all that bad


Despite an uncertain year, we still had lots to celebrate at York Biotech Campus in 2020. From an exciting rebrand, to welcoming new occupiers to the site, we’ve rounded up our top five successes.

  1. A fresh new look

In June 2020, we revealed our new identity as we rebranded from the National Agri-Food Innovation Campus (NAFIC) to become York Biotech Campus. Our campus has evolved over recent years, from what was once an agri-tech site, to all-encompassing biotech.

Alongside the new name came a vibrant new logo, with the molecular White Rose design championing our roots in Yorkshire, whilst also celebrating the role the campus plays supporting innovation in bioscience. We also launched our new website and we’ve got an updated intranet launching this year for our growing resident base to tie the new look together.

  1. Investment onsite

Of course, our campus needed to reflect its new identity, which is why we spent over £2 million on improving the infrastructure and services onsite. We know how important it is to have buildings that perform efficiently, so we invested in critical technical projects including a new building management system (BMS); replacement chillers to control energy performance; air circuit breakers (ACB) and LED lighting.

We also invested in our meeting rooms based at our Lakeside Conference Centre to make sure they were comfortable and inspiring places to collaborate. This included AV upgrades, air conditioning and even a self-serve coffee bar area! Occupiers will be able to take advantage of the space once restrictions ease.

  1. Occupier expansions

Our occupiers also have plenty to celebrate. Lots of our organisations are experiencing business success, which is ultimately leading to growth and expansion here onsite. Abingdon Health is one, having expanded not once but twice in 2020 due to an increase in market demand, which was heightened because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More recently, we worked with Abingdon to complete a major project, converting a pre-existing storage unit into an industry leading facility. The new labs include cutting-edge automated manufacturing lines, meaning they can produce millions of rapid tests per month.

Labskin is another occupier that has expanded numerous times onsite in line with its success, and we spent a large part of 2020 facilitating its next as we started work to double its floor space to just under 9,000 sq.ft, meaning the business can expand its services even further.

Finally, we kicked off an expansion and refurbishment project to support a new contract for Fera Science. This involved converting our former facilities management office space into two new laboratories.

  1. Welcoming new faces

Not only did our long-term occupiers grow, but we also welcomed some new faces onto the campus. Plant & Bean – a major plant-based food producer – joined us late in November and meant we expanded our occupier expertise even further into food innovation and production. They needed custom labs, including specialist kitchen spaces, as well as offices, all of which we had to fit whilst managing the challenges of social distancing.

We also said hello to a couple of smaller, start-up businesses. Oxxie designs and manufactures specialist lighting used in food manufacturing and the pharmaceutical sector, whereas start-up AgriSound is a leading brand in ecosystem management and beekeeping technology. We’re looking forward to supporting both Oxxie and AgriSound on their journeys and watching them grow here on the campus.

  1. Award wins

Finally, to top off the year, we scooped two exciting awards. First, we bagged the Best Innovation Project at October’s Yorkshire Property Awards for our E-flows Mesocosm, in collaboration with our occupiers, Fera Science and CHAP (Centre of Crop Health and Protection). The winning entry had to demonstrate a project that was at the forefront of its industry, and this certainly hit the brief.

Our Lakeside Conference Centre was recognised as a top events venue in the region at Welcome to Yorkshire’s White Rose Awards. We were awarded silver in the Business Events Venue of the Year category. The award is testimony to the hard work of our fantastic conferencing team, and we can’t wait to welcome events back onsite again in the near future.

It was a different year in many respects, but despite the challenges, we’re really proud of everything we’ve achieved. We’re now excited to see what 2021 will bring for both the campus and our occupiers – watch this space!