Samsara takes new lab space at The Oxford Trust’s Wood Centre for Innovation

Biotech start-up, Samsara Therapeutics, is the first company to take new laboratory space at The Oxford Trust’s Wood Centre for Innovation. The Trust, a local charity encouraging the pursuit of science and enterprise, is developing life science laboratories at its Wood Centre for Innovation to increase capacity for the local ecosystem. 

The £0.5m development will deliver laboratory facilities to answer the significant demand that has been seen in the last year from science and tech start-ups and SMEs for lab space in Oxford’s Global Health and Life Sciences District, one of the UK’s leading technology clusters delivering lifesaving developments such as the COVID-19 vaccine. The Trust has received £0.1 million in funding towards the project via the Government’s Local Growth Fund, secured by the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP).

Samsara Therapeutics is an early-stage drug discovery company that is discovering new therapies for extending healthy ageing and treating ageing-related and genetic diseases – including neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, metabolic syndrome and numerous rare genetic disorders. They do this by identifying molecules that induce the cellular process of autophagy, which decreases as we age and is dysfunctional in many diseases.

Samsara was founded in 2018 and has operations in Oxford and Boston, with important collaborations in Paris and Graz Austria. They are backed by Apollo Ventures, a company builder and investor in longevity.

With a mix of lab and office space the company is taking at the Wood Centre for Innovation, their move will enable the business to expand more easily.

The lab development at the Wood Centre for Innovation is expected to significantly boost employment at the innovation centre as companies like Samsara move in to provide further economic growth for the city and local community. 

Steve Burgess, CEO, The Oxford Trust, said: “A warm welcome to Samsara who will join us at the Wood Centre for Innovation later this Spring. A biotech start-up working on breakthrough research is exactly the type of company the Trust continues to support and help on their journey to success.

“We would also like to thank OxLEP for their continued support of not just The Trust and our charitable aims but Oxfordshire’s innovation ecosystem. With this national government funding we are able to quickly pivot to meet the significant demand from companies such as Samsara needing specific lab space.”

Peter Hamley, chief scientific officer, Samsara Therapeutics, said: “We're really excited to move to the Wood Centre for Innovation. It's perfect for the needs of a growing biotech, with state-of-the art facilities in a great location and it allows us to expand the team over the coming months.”

The laboratory development is being carried out by specialist project managers Bulb Laboratories. The project will total 3,300 sq ft of advanced R&D laboratory space for work at containment level 2 with climate control and air handling and 500 sq ft of shared facilities for common equipment and specialist microscopy use, including liquid nitrogen storage, autoclave, water purifier and dark room. 

Surrounded by 15-acres of woodland, the Wood Centre for Innovation is within easy reach of the clinical research facilities at the University of Oxford’s Old Road Campus, the local hospitals, and Oxford Brookes University. Alongside the lab space, the Wood Centre for Innovation provides grade A offices, co-working and desk space in Barclays Eagle Lab, a lecture theatre, meeting rooms, café area and sector-specific business support.

The Trust’s innovation centres – the Wood Centre for Innovation and the Oxford Centre for Innovation in the city centre – are managed by Oxford Innovation, a spin-out from The Oxford Trust and the UK’s leading operator of innovation centres. 

The first phase of the works is planned to complete in the spring. If the lab developments are successful, the Trust will then actively look to add further laboratory space at the Wood Centre for Innovation.