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£40m research hub reaches practical completion

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The centre was funded through UKRI’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

The £40m hub building that will house The Rosalind Franklin Institute on Oxford’s Harwell Science and Innovation campus has reached practical completion.

With the construction company handing legal ownership to UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Franklin will now commence specialist scientific fit-out.

The Franklin, funded through UKRI’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), is dedicated to creating technologies that will change the way researchers see life.

These technologies will be housed in the hub at Harwell alongside 200 researchers, including collaborators from academia and industry.

Professor James Naismith, director of The Franklin, said: “This is a building created by scientists for cutting edge research, and we are looking forward to continuing to deliver impact for the UK.

“The hub shows that it is possible to deliver a highly functional science building that is on budget, on time, energy efficient, a record breaker in space utilisation, and visually inspiring.

“Our scientists coming together in the building for the first time will deliver scientific firsts impacting across the UK nations. By doing so we will honour the legacy of our namesake Rosalind Franklin and try to be worthy of bearing her name.”

The hub includes specialist labs for imaging, mass spectrometry, structural biology and chemistry.

Research already underway at The Franklin on the Harwell Campus and in spokes around the UK has led to the development of nanobodies against SARS-CoV-2, breakthroughs in imaging biological samples using electrons and chemistry techniques that can enable proteins to be modified within cells.

Professor Mark Thomson, STFC executive chair, said: “In recent years STFC’s health technology cluster here at Harwell has gone from strength to strength and the Rosalind Franklin Institute will become an essential element in that growing health technology ecosystem.

“Today’s announcement brings us a big step closer to The Franklin becoming operational and we look forward to supporting them in finding answers to the great life science challenges of the day.”

The hub has been delivered on time and on budget by Mace in partnership with UKRI-STFC, The Franklin and AECOM.

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