Category: Thought pieces

29 Jan 2021


Image Source Nickerson et al., Human Mutation

3Qfor3PM: An interview with Martino Picardo and Rob Burborough

by 3PM

As interest in the life science sector grows and becomes better understood by all of its importance on a global scale, read the view of our science expert Rob around how digital science could be the future and how developers can respond to it.

Rob Burborough: Welcome to the first session of 3 Questions for 3PM. This is an initiative we’re running with external and internal guests. Our first guest is Martino Picardo. Martino, would you introduce yourself please?

Martino Picardo: Hi Rob, hello everyone, my name is Martino Picardo, I’m chairman of Discovery Park, which is the science park based in Sandwich, Kent. Prior to that, I was the first CEO at the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, the campus at Stevenage GSK pharmaceutical site, and prior to that, I was University of Manchester Incubator Company Managing Director.

Rob Burborough: Fantastic. I’m a Partner at 3PM and I’ve put myself in front of Martino so he can grill me over 3 questions that he would like to ask me, and I will give my view. Martino, your first question please?

Martino Picardo: Rob, hopefully I’ve got some tough, interesting and challenging questions for you. My first one is: as a developer, how should I position my buildings to maximise their marketing appeal?

Rob Burborough: The way I would suggest that developers position themselves in the best way for answering this tricky question is by understanding the science behind the companies that you’re trying to attract. Really understand what makes their business tick, understand how their business model works, look at the ecosystem in which their company will operate, i.e. don’t just look at their company in isolation, look at other connections that the company may well need to have and who will they need in their proximity? It’s all about building a viable model that is sustainable and allows the company to grow, and allows the company to move into different territories, whilst at the same time providing a space that is flexible to retain the organisation and adapt with them as they grow. To answer this it doesn’t have to be about the big challenges around financial investment headroom resulting in them having to move out of their ecosystem for more suitable space in the future but retain them and provide the solution within the current eco-system.

In a lot of cases, the majority of staff of these companies come out of higher education institutions, they are the kind of companies that developers need to attract initially, yet they don’t have any financial covenant or track record. They do have investors behind them, but they are usually pre revenue generating businesses. So it takes a leap of faith by developers, investors and the company, and the way you assess your viability around a normal risk modelling approach.  If you’re a developer will be better placed to understand where the risks are, what the perception is over the risk, and how would you attract those tenants if you understand the science, their businesses and their growth potential and that they can actually support the growth of this company in this way.

So, another way to look at this is to think about how these companies are formed and want to grow, you need to understand their vision and allow them to space and time to grow. But you also need to be thinking about how, as a developer the wraparound services can be provided, for example, where they are going to get their talent from, where the skills are going to come from in that company.  It’s all about building a stable company that will obviously will be able to pay their rents, and actually will provide the revenue back to the developers to make them a long term and viable tenant

The types of science vary hugely, so developers need to understand what their CAT A base offer will be as well. A base offer in a commercial real estate context can be quite different from a base offer required for an incubator science model. Developers need to understand where there  price point is, what the market will support and what services they will be able to provide. It is vital that the wraparound operational strategy is the how developers can  support a company in delivering what the company wants to achieve. That would be my advice, really understand the detail of the company, is paramount.

Martino Picardo: And Rob, just follow up to that, a lot of customers, like we are with 3PM, we all want flexibility. But I don’t think we understand that flexibility comes at a price. Is that your take?

Rob Burborough: It is, flexibility does come at a price, but it doesn’t come at a “have it or leave it” price point. It’s a case of understanding, do you really need the level of services that you’re asking for? Why do you do that?, and testing the logic behind it, can you buy it more efficiently somewhere else? The key thing for developers and also for tenants that are going to take up science space is knowing they can get it if they need it, but not necessarily needing it on day one or every day. It’s that adaptability, flexibility to flex the needs of the offer with the cost of providing the service

Developers should also be looking to build a level of reversionary value into their estate, so that when these companies grow up and need to grow out, they can repurpose the space again and again quickly. In my view it actually doesn’t cost a huge amount of money to do this with good design, and it all supports the viability of the overall developer’s commercial proposition. There’s been significant increases in science investment of late in this market and it’s becoming much more attractive and much more stable for investment to come into this space. There’s a lot of support from government at the moment, so it doesn’t cost more to provide more services, it just means that you tailor them better and adapt.

Martino Picardo: Thank you for that Rob. My second question, and I’ve got a supplementary to it as well because things are changing so quickly, is what makes science and technology projects so specialised, and, from your perspective, supplementary to that, what impact is digital having on the design and scope of space?

Rob Burborough: There is a perception that science is complex and specialised. Depending on what branch of science you’re working in, some elements are extremely complex. GMP, regulatory control, that is complex, it’s the latter stages of a science journey, but even at the beginning, I think the complexities around science are around the technical considerations and servicing that is needed to provide the environment for the science to be delivered.

I’m a strong believer that it’s a more perceived risk, rather than a real risk, because the systems and technology that provide the environmental control for a given type of science are pretty much the same as anywhere else in any building. It’s just that the controls, the monitoring, and the use of space is different. And, that comes with experience, and learning how scientists do their work, what their day job looks like, what kind of interaction they need?, why they need certain things to be absolutely perfect in certain areas and where they can be more flexible in other areas.

Obviously, this space can be more expensive than a normal commercial office. Things that are going to change, especially with the current situation that we’re all in, is the use of digital. Now, digital science solutions are being deployed in all branches of science  so will the offer need to as well, Its  going to change by allowing scientists to model traditional lab based activities in simulations away from the lab environment.

We’re seeing a shift with less animal work being undertaken, because it’s being increasingly simulated, although some companies do need that technology still, and that ability, but a lot of companies now can simulate models, they can test the efficacy of experiments, they can look at the GMP, the regulatory control they might need, they can work through that simulation in a digital context. The use of data sequencing and genomics are all adding to the digital platform that people use to test what they would normally do in a lab, they can actually do it in a virtual world, quicker, faster, cheaper,, there will be new technology coming in like AI, Machine learning and quantum computing, which will mean they will be able to process multiple things at the same time, so digital is going to have a big influence on the real estate offer and people are going to look closely  at the digital aspects of the science coming forward.

Martino Picardo: Thank you Rob. My last question, and you know that my background is in life sciences and biomedical, but you see science across all sectors. What does science and the space associated with science look like across all sectors? Can you give me a perspective please?

Rob Burborough: Science across all sectors, there are commonalities across all different branches of science. We have the fortunate position as Project Managers to see the whole lifecycle of a project, and in that, we also get to see the different types of science that are carried out.

It becomes much more refined when you get into commercial manufacturing, and there are several branches around different types of manufacturing that go on in the UK and around the world, but at the incubator stage, and in the higher education and academia stage, the labs are all very similar, the landscape is very similar. Incubators are all very similar. The science that is undertaken within them is very different, but also, it’s an ecosystem in its own right that actually, a lot of skillsets are very similar between sciences as well. The big challenge is where are the skills coming from to feed this growth, because I see that, and i see people working in one particular organisation that move to another organisation that do something very differently in science, but the environment that they’re working in is virtually identical.

We’re also seeing a lot more STEM focus in education, in schools, going through higher education into industry. That whole journey is very familiar across a number of scientific platforms. A lot of that I’ve seen in Boston, is where organisations (big Pharma predominately) used to attract talent  out of their ecosystems, in whatever science they were doing, and then they’d have to be forced to specialise in specific areas of science. certain areas.

Now, there are clearly people that still branch off and become specialists, and become world leaders and subject matter experts. But for general science, for incubator science, to some degree and the  AT&P work’s going on, cell and gene therapy, this is a new branch of science, but actually, the skillset is very similar across organisations and  the labs are very similar. What’s we see happening  is you’ve got a more refined scientific topography. Wet labs, dry labs, they’re all very similar now, so it enables people to change career direction and specialism as well. And also, allows organisations to actually use similar technology to deliver what they need.

I don’t see massive differences in the types of labs. There are differences around the particular nuances, but for example, we all talk about the same specialist equipment, everybody uses similar or similar types of the equipment, and you see that across different scientific platforms.

Everybody now seems to be using sequencing machines, genomics, and DNA analysis for targeted precision medicine  in their process development labs, because of that they’re now building enhanced expertise in bioinformatics which is woven into their process. A lot of people are looking at translational science and a lot more focus on the commerciality of science as well. The labs are geared towards moving the process through as quickly as possible, and reducing the vein to vein, bench to bed time by actually thinking about how do we commercialise this product and make it viable and make it cost effective, and that is driving a much more efficient way of using technology, specialist science equipment, and not paying for huge amounts for real estate as well, because actually you can do quite a lot in a smaller space now.

Martino Picardo: Thank you Rob, as a current customer I found that really informative, and I hope you found it challenging and interesting, and we look forward to more success for 3PM in the future.

Rob Burborough: Thank you very much Martino, and I do like being grilled by somebody who can really grill me as well! I really appreciate the questions and the time you’ve given us, thank you very much.

Martino Picardo: You’re very welcome.


To continue the conversation please get in touch.

11 Nov 2020

Remembrance – Lest We Forget

Remembrance - Lest We Forget

by 3PM

3PM were pleased to support the Normandy Trust in their project arrangements for this truly inspiring memorial overlooking Gold Beach.

Due to open in June 2021 unique projects like these need unique solutions and we are proud to have played our small part. The memorial will be dedicated to the British men & women, who lost their lives in Normandy. We will remember them.

Memorial Construction Update: The Final Stages

19 Aug 2020

World Photo Day 2020

World Photo Day 2020

By 3PM

August 19th celebrates World Photo Day, dedicated to the art and science of Photography. With the invention of smartphones and social media, it is now easier than ever to capture the world around us. Photography isn’t just an art form, but also an important historical tool, as photos can tell stories and record significant periods in time in a way that no other medium can.

In the spirit of World Photo Day, the 3PM Team has shared some of our favourite photos that we’ve taken, from stunning nature shots to capturing everyday life.

“A photograph has the ability to capture a place; an experience; an idea; a moment in time. For this reason, it’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Photographs can convey a feeling faster than, and sometimes even more effectively than words can. A photograph can make the viewer see the world the way the photographer sees it.”

08 Jul 2020

NetZero/Embodied Carbon Metrics – a contractual deliverable?

NetZero/Embodied Carbon Metrics – a contractual deliverable?

by 3PM

Post lockdown, the industry is becoming more conscious of its environmental impact and is grasping the challenges of achieving NetZero.

Recently a lot of discussion has taken place regarding engineered solutions and the challenges of quantifying embodied carbon, given as yet the sector has not settled on an appropriate methodology.
Recent conversations have covered the ability and desire to quantify embodied carbon, as either a project KPI for early stage options evaluation, or as a contracted hard metric. The Enterprise Centre, our innovative scheme delivered for University of East Anglia tackled these challenges head on, and since then we have consolidated our knowledge and the approach that we now employ on our schemes in support of the 3PM NetZero route map.
Our top success factors include:

  • Firstly, above all else you need a desire to achieve, practiced by a strong & principled lead.
  • Secondly, you need a defined methodology, for example ECCOlab gets our vote as we know the output has been validated.
  • A collaborative and open approach by the whole team to raise the bar; accepted norms of process or approach need re-evaluation; tweaking is not enough!
  • A way of monitoring team efforts, perception based to align the teams focus & intent.
  • Defined quantitative metrics and established evaluation criteria to maintain the focus, i.e. BREEAM Outstanding, WELL etc.
  • Balance the science with the common sense, TM54 may be a great methodology but it’s a reactive tool and planned vs actual alignment is not always proven. Energy must be balanced with comfort. Appropriate material selection is the key, especially as some 70% of emissions are driven by the frame & envelope.
  • Innovation is not a dirty word, embrace challenge, stretch the boundaries, don’t accept the first answers.
  • Define the risks and seek clear mitigation, document the intent.


It is clear that this is an area of expertise that needs to evolve rapidly in a post COVID-19 world. We cannot arrive at a new normal by doing the same things. 3PM are proud to sign up to #ProjectManagersDeclare and have the proven expertise to show just how the above list can be achieved.

Contact Patrick Watson if you are interested to know more.

28 Apr 2020

At Home with 3PM: What’s for Dinner?

At Home with 3PM: What's for Dinner?

by 3PM

As part of our At Home With 3PM series, we are posting regular updates about our team and what we are doing to keep spirits high. Click here to view all of the posts in the series.

This past week the Team has had an emphasis on food. We are all rather big ‘foodies’, as evident at our Team away days always taking it in turn to create fantastic meals. Our people are from a large variety of cultures and heritage which made for some very exciting meal creations. We had lots of cakes including banana bread, cupcakes and a fabulous rainbow cake made for the NHS by our Technical Assistant Abi.  Our Head of Finance Laura invoked the flavours of her home country, France, with her quiche, and has been kind enough to share the recipe below.

James Runciman really outdid himself with a sticky Korean BBQ steak poke served with carrot, tenderstem broccoli, kimchi and brown rice, all garnished with furikake and spring onions. There was a curried haddock with spinach and turmeric dal and coriander yoghurt from Sam, Greek custard pie form Tes, ginger and lime barbecue salmon with cucumber, tomato and avocado rice salad,  a chicken jalfrezi and a Caribbean curry goat.

Now time to eat!

Laura’s Salmon Asparagus Quiche (serves four)


  • 100ml crème fraiche
  • 100ml milk
  • 100ml water (approx)
  • 2 large eggs (or 3 small)
  • 1 pastry
  • 100g smoke salmon
  • 1 bundle of fresh asparagus (approx 200g)
  • Salt/pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 200°C, 400°F, Gas 6.
  • Roll out the pastry and press it gently into a lightly greased flan tin. Prick all over with a fork and bake in the oven on the baking sheet for 10/15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, boil the asparagus for 5 minutes then cut into pieces and roast for few minutes in a bit of butter.
  • Take the pastry out the oven, spread the salmon evenly over the pastry base and top with the asparagus.
  • Whisk together the eggs, milk and crème fraiche, and season. Add a drop of water, and then pour the mixture over the salmon/asparagus.
  • Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until just set and golden brown.
  • If you fancy, add a bit of dill on the top for presentation.
  • Leave to cool before serving with a green salad.


Basically, you can do it with whatever you fancy (e.g. vegetarian version > sweet pepper, courgette, petit pois, onion – poached salmon with leek – salmon and mushrooms, bacon & onions…), and you can top it with some cheese.

Bon Appétit!

Vegetarian version
20 Apr 2020

At Home with 3PM: Nature and Wellbeing

At Home with 3PM: Nature and Wellbeing

by 3PM

As part of our 3PM at Home series, we are posting regular updates about our team and what we are doing to keep spirits high. Click here to view all of the posts in the series.

Reflecting on Earth Day, this week we encouraged everybody to spend some time in nature, whilst still practising social distancing.

During these changing times where most of us are at home working out our new normal, whether it is looking after children whilst they are away from school, creating an office at home to work from, or simply getting through the days away from family members and friends, we are subtly reminded of a constant diorama around us. Mother Nature, the universe and the world that existed before humans is somewhat thriving in our absence. We are humbled and reminded that perhaps we are guests on this planet and we should try in the future to treat the world around us as such.

Understanding this relationship and the impact nature has on our wellbeing, we encouraged the team to find time every day to be outside and be part of the environment around them, whilst maintaining all government guidelines around social distancing. We cannot be complacent in how all of this affects our mental health and our team have been truly fantastic in adapting to these new ways of working and are inspiring on their approach to taking care of themselves and those around them.

As we navigate through this, we at 3PM will continue to support our team, their families, our Clients, the external teams we work with as best we can, and for right now that is through an image of 3PM out and about enjoying nature.

09 Mar 2020

International Women’s Day 2020: Rachael

My View

by Rachael Keeble

Someone asked me last week what International Women’s Day means to me. Honestly I have mixed emotions about it. I’m inspired by the profiles of amazing women doing fantastic work. I’m relieved to see the balance of gender discourse flipped on its head for a day. I’m proud of the men that champion brilliant women. But I’m also frustrated that International Women’s Day has to exist at all.

And yet it is so needed. In the construction industry, women are underrepresented in almost every area, but even more so the further down the supply chain you go. The reason I’m frustrated is because in the rest of my life I’m not that used to thinking about my gender at all.

I’m lucky to have grown up in a power house of women. My mum and my sisters are some of the most inspiring people in my life – my dad too who has only ever encouraged and supported us in whatever we wanted to be and do. I had some amazing female role models at school and have continued to fill my adult life with women I am proud of, and in awe of. My Undergraduate and Masters degrees were in History and English Literature, female dominated courses and being musical, I have always been surrounded by creative men and women alike. For me it was only really when I joined the construction industry (and undertook my Masters in Construction Management) that I suddenly became more acutely aware of my gender.

It’s the daily little things that make the difference. Having to carry my own site boots around all day because generally construction sites don’t have my size. Having to take a deep breath every time anyone writes a letter addressed to me that starts “Dear Sirs”. Hiding any indication of an emotional response to a difficult meeting. Having to trek around site to find the magic person who holds the key to the single female loo…!

And yet things are continually getting better and International Women’s Day does remind me of that. Representation of all marginalised groups is becoming slowly larger in the industry, and LinkedIn on and around International Women’s Day is a testament to this as individual female perspectives are bought into the main arena.

I myself have managed to find my own path, working for a company where I can authentically be me – where I don’t have to worry about my gender holding me back and am able to pursue my work with encouragement and acceptance. Joining ‪3PM in January 2019 provided the trifecta; in the work we do, the Clients we work with and the cultural fit with my colleagues, leading to exciting and innovative results.

I am also part of creating change in other ways. Last year I was elected onto the CIOB London Hub (where I am the only female representative) working with a body of amazing individuals who are championing the change they want to see in the industry. This has opened up other doors where my view counts and I can help make things better for others; in February 2020 I represented the CIOB at the House of Parliament in the latest parliamentary review and I am currently collaborating on an initiative to promote equality and diversity within the industry and to encourage the next generation to consider a career in construction. My work with the CIOB has only really just begun but I am excited to get more involved and help promote positive change in the industry.

So on this International Women’s Day, whilst I acknowledge that there is still more work to be done to make the industry more diverse and representative, I am also hopeful and proud. Hopeful for a future where equal representation is the norm and where men and women alike inspire the next generation. Proud to be working with ‪3PM, the CIOB and a host of Clients and industry professionals who are embracing and championing this change, working towards a future where diversity is celebrated every day.

06 Mar 2020

International Women’s Day 2020: Suzannah

My View

by Suzannah Howson

I have always been a girly girl, growing up with a Persian mother who radiated femininity it was natural to play with dolls and emulate these culturally stereotypical female roles. My father was a residential property developer, the old-school kind who would renovate and build most of it himself. At seven, I was helping him putty windows whilst still ensuring my dolls were all dressed appropriately for their tea party. My playing as a child was always a balance and it felt normal to live with these two polar opposite gender typecasts.  Naturally when I fell into property like my father, I retained my feminine edge like my mother.

Joining the construction and property industry was a mild shock to how I had grown up with my family and properties, this industry didn’t really fit with being a girly girl and I quickly learnt it wasn’t the way it was done.  Within my first week of working I was politely advised by a female colleague that perhaps it was better to dress ‘more like a man’ with trousers and a shirt, so I would be taken seriously. I was disappointed to say the least that being myself didn’t fit with the industry I wanted to be in.

After five years in various organisations with both men and women telling me to dress differently, not giggle too much, be less feminine, don’t wear dresses, perhaps cut my hair, wear less makeup, and comments even so far as to be told that; ‘I was only seen as fluff that floated round the office’.  I was asked to go to networking events so I could draw men’s attention, only be to be asked by men if I could run along and find the ‘man who knew what he was talking about’ as clearly in their eyes I did not.

As you can imagine my motivation and drive to be in the industry was diminishing with each passing day. The polar opposites I so enjoyed in my childhood where being me in reality was not accepted.

By 2012 I just about gave up hope until I spoke with an old colleague who had recently started with others his own project management firm. He wanted me to join as they were growing and needed someone who had worked in the higher education, commercial and science sectors. I was initially reluctant as I was so deflated by the fight just to be me, that I was seriously considering changing industries, so I thought I’ll ask him straight out (what did I have to lose) “can I be myself here?” .  He responded with “you can only be who you are, and that’s all we can ever ask of you”.

I took the opportunity, one last go to be in the property world I loved. Whilst the majority of people in this new company were men, their views or shall I say their ‘non-views’ of me being a particularly overtly feminine woman were refreshing and empowering. No one ever gave reference to it, and with each passing day I was growing as a person and there was nothing I felt like I couldn’t do, their support and indifference to my girliness made me love my career again, and even when faced with negative views outside of our 3PM family it didn’t bother me as much anymore. There are people in this industry who support you for who you are and what you love to do regardless of what package it comes in. This is what our industry needs more of.

I progressed, I became a mother of twins, chose to work part time and still managed to become an owner of this fantastic business. The opportunities were there for the taking, I was inspired and when you are surrounded by like-minded people who are passionate about being themselves and driving change whilst enjoying the work they do, it is easy to succeed.  “Inspiring, Trusted Leadership” emerged, led by me, it balanced perfectly the drive across the diverse views inherent within us.

I firmly believe there needs to be more companies that embrace real individuality in our industry (not just say they do) and try not to fit the person into a role or stereotype they believe it should be.

Staying true to myself and the polar opposites inherent within my upbringing is now a strength I employ both in the board room and with everyone I work with.  Balancing my femininity and, well… femininity (as to be in construction does not mean you need to be masculine) within this world is the only thing I can do and the only thing anyone can do is be true to their-self.  I am proud to be part of something where your individuality is what makes you, what allows you to succeed and ultimately what makes you happy.

To hear the younger generation say this is the first business I feel I can really be myself, be who I am naturally and not be judged’ is all the success I need.