Lateral is a dynamic UK real estate investor, developer and operator and has made significant progress in establishing a leading life science and innovation platform. We recently interviewed Co-Founder Rob Beacroft to gain a better understanding of the company’s ambitions and to hear about some of the issues and challenges in the sector right now.
While Rob’s academic background is in business management and law, followed by an early career at private bank Coutts, it was developing and growing the tech business Self Net prior to its sale to Royal Sun Alliance that brought out his entrepreneurial flair. Rob’s love of design, architecture, and buildings drew him towards setting up his own residential property development business in 2010, ARC, where he cut his teeth managing the whole development cycle. Focusing on prime central London, the business grew from single units to multiple units, new build residential schemes and ultimately to mixed-use development.
How did Lateral get started as a business?
I honed my skills at grass-roots level on luxury residential refurbishments and right through to managing the process for major schemes and I’ve always had a resolute focus on the detail and how design shapes the end-user experience. The focus on the end-user and space as a service was starting to emerge as a trend in commercial real estate and while I had undertaken mixed-use development, I did not have that requisite deep understanding. This is where Robert Crawley comes in, with his extensive experience as head of acquisitions at CLS Holdings plc.
We shared the belief that there was a gap in the market for a forward-thinking, end-user focused approach to real estate – a less institutional, more entrepreneurial, active approach to investing in commercial real estate. Along with my corporate finance whizz of a brother Nick, who joined me from Merrill Lynch in 2015, we had the perfect blend of skills to originate, raise funds, create entrepreneurial business plans and execute them through the development life cycle. We saw the benefit of targeting high-growth niche markets with limited competition, with life science an obvious candidate playing to our strengths – highly technical, end-user focused, with demand overwhelmingly focused on London and the Southeast where Robert’s track record in acquisitions excelled. Following failed attempts to secure life science-focused assets in Abingdon and at 270 Cambridge Science Park in 2018 and 2019 respectively, we set up Lateral in February 2020 and secured Trinity House, Oxford, in partnership with the Devonshire Group to bring labs to Oxford Business Park.