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Dubai Science Park reveals expansion plans

The 450 companies operating at Dubai Science Park include AstraZeneca, and the free zone plans to add 200,000 sq ft of lab and office space AAPIMAGE via Reuters Connect
The 450 companies operating at Dubai Science Park include AstraZeneca. The free zone plans to add 200,000 sq ft of lab and office space
  • 30-40 companies joining each year 
  • Adding 200,000 sq ft of warehouses
  • Demand for genomics and pharma

Dubai’s biotechnology free zone is adding 60 percent more offices, laboratories and warehouses over the next few years to cater for an influx of new companies, its senior vice-president told AGBI

Dubai Science Park, part of Dubai-listed Tecom Group, is planning an expansion of 200,000 sq ft of additional storage and logistics facilities at the 1 million sq ft free zone in Al Barsha South.

The warehousing component is due to complete in the first quarter of next year. After that, the park aims to build a further 200,000 sq ft each of offices and labs to accommodate the 30 to 40 new companies moving in each year, Marwan Abdulaziz Janahi revealed.

There are around 450 organisations at Dubai Science Park, the majority of which are in the healthcare, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and medical technology sectors. They include AstraZeneca, BeiGene, Pfizer and Virax Biolabs. 

Biotechnology generally – the use of biology and life sciences to develop new products and systems to improve human health – is growing rapidly, driven by technological advancement, population growth and increased prevalence of chronic diseases.

Globally, the market is projected to increase by almost 14 percent annually to $3.8 trillion by 2030, according to Grand View Research. 

Focus on biotechnology

GCC countries have identified biotechnology as a key sector as they diversify their economies. For Janahi, trends fuelling the industry’s growth include rising interest in genomics – the study of genetics and how it impacts health. 

He pointed to the March 2023 launch of the UAE’s National Genome Strategy to map the DNA of every Emirati: “That information can open so many doors and we need to understand how it impacts the healthcare market.”  

Personalisation of treatment in general is another trend, as is the management of digitalised medical data, healthcare transactions and insurance – the systems for which are currently very “fragmented”, he said.

Such companies at Dubai Science Park include UK-based genomics specialist Innovate Life Sciences, Alliance Care Technologies – which provides AI-driven healthcare services – and Agiomix, a molecular and genetics lab. 

Marwan Abdulaziz Janahi  Dubai Science ParkSupplied
Senior vice-president Marwan Abdulaziz Janahi says he wants people ‘to live healthier’

The park, along with EY, published a white paper in January calling on the UAE to ramp up investment in local research to develop precision medicine and improve patient outcomes, as part of the government’s AED112.7 billion ($31 billion) forecast healthcare expenditure by 2027. 

It also relates to the UAE’s quest to position itself as a world leader in “longevity” – the race to prolong life – an industry crossing the fields of biotech, pharma, fintech, AI and robotics, set to reach $33 trillion by 2026.

With the UAE launching retirement visas for expats over 60 to stay in the country, Janahi said: “We don’t just want people to live longer, we want them to live healthier, otherwise the effects on healthcare systems are massive.”

“Given the priority being placed across the region on developing the biosciences sector, especially localisation of R&D activities, there is indeed significant room for growth, but also likely to be competition,” said Adeel Kheiri, health and life sciences partner at Oliver Wyman in the Middle East. 

“Creating a unique and differentiated value proposition will be crucial for biotech clusters to distinguish themselves from the crowd.”

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