Market report

Cloud labs: can remote research fix the shortage of lab space?

Cloud laboratories enable scientists to run experiments remotely without the need for physical presence and could ease the shortage of lab space.
Interior of cloud lab (source: Strateos)
Interior of a cloud lab (source: Strateos)
Table of Contents
In: Market report

Cloud laboratories are highly automated, remotely accessible facilities using sophisticated software and robotics to let scientists design, run, and monitor experiments from anywhere. These facilities offer researchers access to an extensive array of scientific instruments and experimental setups without their physical presence. The concept gained momentum and visibility during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In locations where demand for lab space exceeds supply, could cloud labs be part of the solution? To take an example, in Cambridge, there persists an 850,000 sq ft (79,000 sq m) shortfall of lab space. Lab take-up totalled 272,000 sq ft (25,000 sq m) in 2023, three times higher than that of 2022. However, demand continues to outstrip supply and rents for lab space increased 22 per cent in 2023 to reflect this. The shortage is countrywide, although it is most acute in the so-called ‘Golden Triangle’ around Oxford, Cambridge and London – and to a certain extent the wider south-east.

This problem is not limited to the UK: for example, in France, finding wet lab space is also a challenge.

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