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Anna Strongman joins 'Science Cities and the Arc' October forum

Future Cities Forum is delighted that the CEO of Oxford University Development, Anna Strongman, will join our 'Science Cities' physical event at Cambridge University in October 2021. OUD is a joint venture between Oxford University and Legal & General, set up to build Innovation Districts and subsidised accommodation for graduate students and the university workforce.

Anna was previously Managing Partner of Argent LLP. She spent 12 years on a there working on a range of asset, development and business planning projects. Highlights included leading the Asset Management of King’s Cross, developing Coal Drops Yard and setting up a BTR portfolio with JV partners Related.

She helped build the business from 40 to a team of 200 over a ten year period and led the corporate side of the business as Managing Partner. Before working at Argent, Anna worked in the planning and economic development team of Arup, DTZ in Scotland and studied Japanese as a Daiwa Anglo Japanese scholar.

Following 'Science Cities' forums which have discussed the planning and integration of R&D hubs both within cities and in new residential districts such as Stockholm (Karolinska Institutet), Heidelberg in Germany, Oxford North and the West Midlands (Warwick University) our October 2021 forum will discuss best practice collaboration between public and private sectors.

It will have a focus on how the Arc linking Oxford through Milton Keynes and Bedford to Cambridge will become a powerhouse of innovation, connected to Birmingham's emerging tech and life sciences hubs and to London's world class centres at King's Cross St Pancras, Imperial West in Hammersmith, and the developing South Bank campuses of Guy's and St Thomas's NHS Trust.

At our last physical Cambridge event in 2019 - the first in our 'science cities' series we asked the question: what do we - in the UK - have to do to compete globally with science discovery and university-hospital powerhouses, such as the Greater Boston Area Life Sciences Corridor and the best of Chinese research cities?

Our final panel - which included Dr David Hardman of Innovation Birmingham (Bruntwood SciTech) and Dr Mike Snowden of Astra Zeneca, tackled this issue, drawing on both built projects and plans in the making across Oxford, Birmingham and Cambridge. The Chief Executive of the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Bruno Holthof who is developing a masterplan with Oxford City Council for a new a science and innovation park in Headington, Oxford, said:

'Professor Sir John Bell, who recruited me in 2015, said Cambridge is far ahead of Oxford and we want to catch up. I am proud to say we have been working closely with Oxford Health - the mental health trust - Oxford Brookes as well as big landowners like Christchurch and Magdalen colleges - on developing a plan for how we develop brownfield sites within the ring road and quite close to the city centre.

'Our challenges are similar to Cambridge - it's difficult to recruit and retain nurses, catering and cleaning staff given the cost of housing and the lack of space. There is a clear vision for the master-plan now that the different stake-holders are coming together. As a hospital trust we are cash-poor but we have lots of land assets, like Addenbrooke's in Cambridge. The Headington sites do not feel like a proper science park, but far more like a parking lot. The are many old buildings, not fit for purpose.

'We are competing not with Cambridge but globally, with the Boston area hospitals and universities and with China. Our focus is now on a masterplan to drive quality of building and place for research, innovation and wealth creation. We want to make sure that Headington has a contiguous life sciences campus, not a disjointed and dispersed one, so that the Old Road, Warneford and Churchill sites can connect with the Oxford Science Park in Cowley.'

Master-planner and urban designer, Bernie Foulkes, Director at LDA Design, commented on how important it is for research parks, universities and hospital campuses to look outward and not inwards:

'Sometimes big institutions forget their responsibility, as they are creating a piece of city. We are essentially talking about people and place. When we talk about the importance of 'sticky' places we mean places where people can meet and these are the places of exchange and ideas. I rarely see in the design brief a focus on making the spaces in between just as important as the buildings them-selves.


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