The University of Manchester has formally started the tender process for the £2bn innovation district on the site of its North Campus.

Announced at the MIPIM property conference in Cannes, ID Manchester will include 3.5m sq ft of mixed-use space including large areas of public realm. The focus will be on attracting science, research, development, cultural, and tech companies, along with some residential development.

”ID Manchester will create a new, world-class innovation district situated in the heart of Manchester and alongside the University, where we will nurture the next generation of game-changing businesses and bring huge economic benefits to our city region and beyond.”

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester

The University is searching for an investment and development partner for the site, which will be in a joint venture.

The University will contribute by providing long leasehold transfers on a plot-by-plot basis, with the partner providing cash equity, business and development management. The University said it would hold “no less than 35%” equity stake in any joint venture.

ID Manchester September 2019

Any JV will look to establish a special-purpose vehicle to bring forward development, again on a plot-by-plot basis, but the University said its preference was for the site to be “seen holistically and not be seen as a plot-by-plot investment by bidders”.

Once a partner is chosen in autumn 2020, the JV will draw up a fresh masterplan for the site, secure planning, carry out all site-wide infrastructure works, build the site out, attract tenants, and hold the site as a long-term investment asset once it completes. This process is expected to take 15 years.

Sheppard Robson and Arup have so far supported the University and its advisor CBRE to develop the vision for ID Manchester, based on the principles of the existing SRF for the site, drawn up by Bennetts Associates. This will be refreshed once a JV partner is chosen.

The first developments at the site will likely begin in 2022 once the University decants from North Campus into the £330m MECD, which is currently under construction, although timescales for ID Manchester remain fluid. Some buildings within North Campus, particularly at its south end, will remain occupied.

The University will also continue to occupy the £60m Masdar Building, home to the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre, with the remaining 18 acres of land around this part of the campus also made available for development.