Space options for Singapore’s life sciences industry

Many life sciences occupiers face challenges in finding space that meets their requirements.

October 03, 2022

Many life sciences occupiers, including those in Singapore, face challenges in finding space that meets their business requirements. According to JLL’s Life sciences in Asia Pacific: A booster for growth report, demand for quality space is outstripping supply and life sciences firms are willing to pay a premium for buildings with green credentials.

Singapore has long identified the life sciences industry as a growth sector, setting up designated parks to cater to the sector’s real estate needs. Today, the Singapore Science Park (SSP) and Biopolis in one-north are two thriving biomedical science clusters with green-certified buildings. On the other hand, Tuas Biomedical Park has been established as Singapore’s pharmaceutical and medical technology manufacturing hub.

Singapore Science Park and Biopolis

Depending on the nature of the research, life sciences companies may require dry and/or wet laboratories (labs). Dry labs, suitable for activities like computer-assisted experiments, have less stringent requirements than wet labs that require additional features like drain and exhaust services due to the handling of drugs, chemicals and other liquid substances.

CapitaLand’s SSP 1 and 2 have purpose-built spaces with specifications like multiple floor traps for easier dry or wet lab configurations and high floor loading to accommodate lab and research equipment. There are also converted units which are smaller and suitable for firms with less stringent physical requirements.1

Over at Biopolis, besides JTC’s specialised lab units, there are also space options at private developments like The Kendall, Nucleos, Synapse and Amnios.

Figure 1: Examples of existing developments with R&D lab space options

Project Name The Kendall Nucleos
Location Singapore Science Park 2 Biopolis, one-north
Developer/Owner Ascendas REIT Ascendas REIT
Completion Year 2009 2014
Green Mark Standard Green Mark certified Green Mark GoldPlus
Brief Description A 6-storey development for lab, office setups and R&D activities such as biology experiments and software development; each unit is equipped with dedicated risers, floor traps, chilled water provision, and a modular, column-free layout for design flexibility A 7-storey twin-tower biomedical research facility - offering innovative, modular units with dedicated lab-friendly features, such as a district cooling system, central chilled-water tap-off points and pre-arranged exhaust shaft
Total Net Lettable Area Approx. 182,800 sq ft Approx. 402,400 sq ft

Source: Ascendas REIT, JLL Research

Tuas Biomedical Park

The 280-ha Tuas Biomedical Park in western Singapore features a “plug-and-play” design and caters to firms looking to set up customised manufacturing facilities. This is complemented by JTC’s ready-built facility - JTC Space @ Tuas Biomedical Park - which provides industrial and lab space for industrialists serving the park and the Tuas South industrial area nearby.

To date, 14 global biomedical companies, including Abbott, AbbVie, Amgen, CIBA Vision, Novartis and Pfizer, have established their manufacturing facilities in the park.2 Sanofi’s new vaccine facility - expected to be ready in 2026 - will also be located within the park.

Pipeline supply will cater to the growing demand for quality green space

According to JLL’s life sciences report, Singapore is one of four identified life sciences city hotspots in the Asia Pacific region where demand for space until 2025 is likely to be strong.

The Tuas Biomedical Park will continue to cater to life sciences manufacturing firms with built-to-suit requirements. Meanwhile, those seeking quality spaces for lease (e.g., to set up their labs) can look forward to three upcoming developments slated for completion between 2023 and 2025.

Targeting Green Mark Platinum certification, Solaris @ Tai Seng (a high-specification industrial development), Elementum in Biopolis and the redeveloped 1 Science Park Drive within the SSP are expected to add over a million sq ft of new space for the life sciences industry. This will cater to the growing demand for quality green space by life sciences firms for their biomedical R&D activities and support the growth of Singapore’s life sciences industry going forward.

Figure 2: Major upcoming industrial developments with space for the life sciences industry

Project Name Solaris @ Tai Seng Elementum Redevelopment of 1 Science Park Drive
Location Tai Seng Avenue, Paya Lebar iPark Biopolis, one-north Singapore Science Park
Developer/Owner Soilbuild Group Holdings Ho Bee Land CapitaLand Development and Ascendas REIT
Expected Year of Completion 2023 2023 2025
Green Mark Target Green Mark Platinum Green Mark Platinum Green Mark Platinum
Brief Description A campus-style high-specification industrial development comprising four towers of 8- to 9-storey buildings with three towers for production space and one tower for lab space A 12-storey business park development with integrated community areas The upcoming life sciences and innovation campus will comprise one 15-storey, two 9-storey buildings, and an event plaza with retail, F&B and supporting amenities
Space for Life Sciences Industry Approximately 170,200 sq ft of lab space Approximately 280,000 sq ft of biomedical business park space Over 20,000 sq ft of ready-to-use fitted-out biosafety level 2 labs Approximately 861,000 sq ft for biomedical R&D activities

Source: Soilbuild, Ho Bee Land, CapitaLand, JLL Research

Figure 3: Examples of locations with space options for life sciences R&D and manufacturing

Source: JLL Research

Source: “Science Park 1 & 2: Spaces designed for success and innovation” by CapitaLand
2 Source: JTC