Science and technology lifts the gloom for property investors

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OXFORD NANOPORE’S MinION is a tiny but powerful device. When a hotel worker in Sydney tested positive for covid-19 in March last year, the portable DNA sequencer traced the infection to a flight attendant for an American airline, avoiding a general lockdown. The success of biotech firms—another celebrity is BioNTech, of Covid-19 vaccine fame—is sucking capital into life sciences. When such companies expand, they do so not with offices or shops but by means of white-walled, shiny-surfaced scientific laboratories.

Commercial-property investors have long banked on offices, retail and industrial buildings. Less conventional assets like mobile-phone towers were the preserve of specialists. Now the big guns of real estate are competing over them too. Thus laboratory space has become commercial real-estate’s hottest property, along with other facilities that power the digital economy. Data centres and infrastructure that connect…

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