Lab firm BioGrad invests £7.6m in new HQ

Lab firm BioGrad grew significantly during the pandemic via COVID testing and now it is investing £7.6m at its new Liverpool headquarters. Tony McDonough reports

Dr Natalie Kenny
Dr Natalie Kenny, founder of Liverpool lab firm BioGrad


Liverpool laboratory firm BioGrad is creating a 10,000 sq ft ‘biobank’ as part of a £7.6m into its new headquarters in Wavertree Technology Park.

Originally called BioGrad Diagnostics, the business was set up by owner and chief executive Dr Natalie Kenny in 2014. Based at Liverpool Science Park, it grew significantly in 2020 and 2021 as it pivoted to provide COVID testing.

However, with demand for COVID tests having fallen rapidly the firm is now diversifying to focus on stem cell and regenerative medicine research. 

In collaboration with the University of Leicester, BioGrad biobank has already welcomed up to 261,000 samples from the largest long-COVID study in the UK.

Further partnerships with Liverpool Women’s Hospital and three private research companies will see BioGrad bank over more than 1m human cell samples in its first year.

The Wavertree site is BioGrad’s fifth location in the Liverpool city region. It retains a base at Liverpool Science Park and also has operations at Bootle, Warrington and Liverpool John Lennon Airport, in addition to satellite sites in Oxford and London.

In September 2021 Dr Kenny announced she was exploring a possible sale of the business. However, that plan is now on hold as she seeks to grow the company in a new direction.

She said: “Our incredible new headquarters, which will house the second largest biobank facility in the UK, represents an exciting new era for BioGrad as we move into stem cell and regenerative medicine research, alongside our continued education operations.

“It also demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the levelling up agenda – providing an open access biobank for Liverpool city region and North West, creating new jobs and opportunities.”

Biobanking is the process of preserving human tissue, either for research issues (such as COVID and long-term COVID studies) or for human application (taking cells out of a patient and putting them back in).

This will allow BioGrad to take stem cells out of patients to store them for therapeutic use for other patients.

This biobank building will also give all parents the chance to preserve their stem cells within the North West, and the provision of non-invasive, prenatal testing and pregnancy testing.


Laboratory, lab, testing, science, scientist, COVID-19
BioGrad grew significantly during the pandemic after pivoting to COVID testing


Adjacent to the biobank building, a second 33,000 sq ft site will house the BioGrad Innovation Centre. This is a new hub for the local community and a space for city region-based, female-led science and tech SMEs to thrive in.

BioGrad’s latest investment has also seen 40 members of existing staff upskilled and promoted into new roles at the new headquarters and the existing location at Liverpool Science Park.

Officially opening the new BioGrad biobank, Steve Rotheram, added: “Liverpool city region is home to some of the country’s leading clusters of innovation in life science and infectious disease control.

“But I believe that we have the capacity, the capability, and the creativity to put ourselves not only at the forefront of the UK, but global innovation.”

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