BioCity CEO, Glenn Crocker. A 'phoenix from the ashes' story resulting in the largest bioscience incubator in the UK.

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Video title: BioCity CEO, Glenn Crocker. A 'phoenix from the ashes' story resulting in the largest bioscience incubator in the UK.
Released on: October 26, 2011. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review,filmed at BIO 2011, Fintan Walton talks to Glenn Crocker, Chief Executive of BioCity.
BioCity Nottingham: An incubation company helping life science start-up companies
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here at BIO 2011 in Washington DC. On this show I have Glenn Crocker, who is the CEO of BioCity based in Nottingham in the UK, welcome to the show.
Glenn Crocker:
Thank you.
Fintan Walton:
Glenn, as I said you are the CEO of a organization company called BioCity which is based in Nottingham, could you tell us what BioCity is about and how that company originated?
Glenn Crocker:
Okay, so fundamentally BioCity is about trying to make life science companies in the early stage of their development more successful, so we are an incubation company, we help start companies to create them from scratch sometimes and then provide all the facilities in the environment that helps them to grow and develop including the finance side of things as well.
Origin of BioCity
Fintan Walton:
So where does the origin come from, because I understand it there is a reason why you are in Nottingham.
Glenn Crocker:
Yes, it came from a disaster it's a sort of phoenix from the ashes type of story I guess you could say, the closure of a former Boots Pharmaceutical site which was then acquired by BASF back in 2001 and BioCity came out of the ashes of that. Boots closed its site, BASF took it over and then they subsequently closed it and lost about 450 jobs in the centre of Nottingham. BioCity was formed as a partnership between the local universities and created as a new company which then went on to develop the site, it's the largest bioscience incubator in the UK and one of the largest in Europe and so we have a great critical mass of companies.
Fintan Walton:
Okay, and the shareholders of that company are which university?
Glenn Crocker:
University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University.
Success measurements and impact on Nottingham local economy
Fintan Walton:
When a company like yours which is main incubator company effectively how have you seen the companies within your incubator evolve and how many of them actually been successful?
Glenn Crocker:
Well it's difficult to say, because success is measured in lots of different ways, but we have companies that started from scratch with one or two people in BioCity sort of four or five-years ago and they have grown to become 65, 70 in fact they are now heading towards a 100 employees, so there is a reasonable sized companies now there largely exist because of the environment that we've been able to create to help them grow and develop.
Fintan Walton:
And do you think those companies would have been successful without a BioCity?
Glenn Crocker:
It's really difficult to say, I mean some of them exist purely because we created them, so there is a company called R5 Pharmaceuticals for example where we created it from scratch invested in it brought another investment, we brought drafting the business plan, recruited the management team that was back at the beginning of 2007 that company was sold to Aesica Pharmaceuticals [PharmaDeals ID = 37338] in the middle of last year, it grown to again about 65,70 people still based at BioCity and BioCity got a substantial return on its initial investment there as did the original investors so everybody won, great opportunity for investors also 65,70 jobs it simply would not have been there have you not created that in the first place, so that was just fine.
Fintan Walton:
Right, so you have an impact on the local economy?
Glenn Crocker:
I like to think so yes, I mean, I think overall BioCity is one of the bigger employers in Nottingham.
Essentiality of Incubators for start-up companies
Fintan Walton:
Right, and of course in your role as an incubator you must be seeing the changes that have occurred in biotech over the last few years as well, I mean how important are bio, I mean obviously people will say incubators are very important, but do they became even more essential now in a different climate for start-up companies?
Glenn Crocker:
I think the key think is the capital efficiency, so what you don't want is putting money into a company to go and build flashy buildings or fit-out labs and those sort of things so we are really driving towards that capital efficiency message not just in providing well equipped labs but all the heavy expensive equipments that goes in it as well NMR's, Mass Spec's, HPLC's these all things that the companies themselves don't want to be spending venture capital money on, so we can provide that either as a central resource or as a so low cost rental to the companies massive boost to their start-up capability that means that all their spending money on are basically staff costs, R&D consumables and those sort of things and not bits of cake which just start depreciating as soon as you get them in the door.
Future ambitions
Fintan Walton:
So what are your ambitions now for BioCity?
Glenn Crocker:
Well I think there is more to come, there are other sites across the UK that could be taken on and they are existing sites as well, so we think there is a may be some consolidation to be done amongst the myriad of bio incubators across the UK, but also we need to address the investment issue as well and one of the great things about the work incubator environment is that we stay so close to the companies, BioCity recognize that in forming a small investment fund Mobius, but we want to develop that even further so that we can then put money into companies that we have known probably since birth that we stay close to throughout the first four or five-years of their life and can support and develop and there is a lot of logic in putting money into companies that you are that much closer to and you know that much better. So hopefully we can help towards cracking the shortage of capital there is in the life science industry and developing new opportunities as well, so it's creating great businesses that's all that it's about ultimately it is just one of the way to doing it.
Fintan Walton:
Glenn Crocker, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
Glenn Crocker:
You are welcome, thank you.
Fintan Walton
Dr Fintan Walton is the Founder and CEO of PharmaVentures . After completing his doctoral research on the genetics of cell proliferation at the University of Michigan(US)and Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), Dr Walton gained broad commercial experience in biotechnology in management positions at Bass and Celltech plc (1982-1992).
Glenn Crocker
Glenn Crocker currently serves as CEO of BioCity Nottingham Ltd (BioCity). Glenn Crocker has a first degree in Genetics and a D Phil in Immunology from Oxford University. After a few years in post doctoral research, he joined Ernst & Young where he qualified as a chartered accountant. His work with E&Y focused on advising the biotechnology industry, spending several years in Palo Alto, California, and returning to Cambridge to head the UK biotechnology practice for the firm, focusing on business development and corporate finance transactions. In 2003 he joined BioCity Nottingham Ltd (BioCity) as Chief Executive and has grown the business substantially since then. In 2006 he jointly founded R5 Pharmaceuticals, a contract formulation and manufacturing business, and is a non-executive director of that company. Glenn is also a non-executive director of Medilink East Midlands and a board adviser to several other companies.
PharmaVentures is a corporate finance and transactions advisory firm that has served hundreds of clients worldwide in relation to their strategic deal making in the pharmaceutical, life science and healthcare sectors. Our key offerings include: Transactions / deal negotiations; Product / technology valuations; Deal term advice; Due diligence & expert reports; Strategy formulation; Alliance management; and Expert opinion for litigation/arbitration cases. PharmaVentures provides the global expertise to ensure our clients generate the highest possible return on investment from all their deal making activities. We have experience of all therapeutic areas and can offer advice on both product and technology commercialisation.
BioCity Nottingham Ltd (BioCity)
BioCity Nottingham Ltd (BioCity) is one of Europe's largest bioscience incubators. Launched in 2003, the 129,000 sq ft award winning site currently hosts over 70 companies and 600 employees. The purpose of BioCity Nottingham is to provide a home for developing biotechnology and healthcare companies, with accommodation that is able to respond to a company's requirements by offering small highly flexible laboratory and office units, and grow-on space. It is able to cater for companies from 1 to about 80 employees. By using flexible lab and office leasing arrangements, a company's growth requirements can be easily accommodated and it is the ideal solution for many types of ventures, including: New start-ups University spin-outs Established SMEs Corporate relocations and expansions Overseas companies seeking to establish an EU base