An organisation set up by the Mayor of London to transform the South East into one of the leading life sciences clusters in the world is to make its debut on the global stage today
MedCity was launched in April to maximise the enormous potential of the London-Oxford-Cambridge life sciences sector and turn it into one of the premier regions for life science research, development and commercialisation – creating jobs, attracting investment and developing innovative new therapies.
The region is home to a rich research and development eco-system, with six of the world’s top 50 universities and five out of seven of the UK’s academic health science centres, plus leading medical research institutes including the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the new Francis Crick Institute and the national Cell Therapy Catapult, focusing on stem cell research and industrialisation. Today, MedCity will be championing the region’s life sciences base on behalf of the Mayor at the BIO International Convention in San Diego, California.
San Diego is one of the largest life sciences clusters in America and the BIO International Convention is the world’s biggest biotechnology gathering, allowing exhibitors to reach influential decision makers, discover new players in the industry, form partnerships and evaluate emerging technologies. MedCity, headed by newly-appointed Executive Chair Dr Eliot Forster, is part of the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) delegation that will be flying out to promote the UK life sciences scene.
MedCity Executive Chair Eliot Forster said: “The San Diego BIO International Convention is the largest global event for the biotechnology industry and attracts the biggest names in biotech. It will offer MedCity the perfect chance to network with some of the sector’s most important figures, raise the profile of our region as a leading place to do business and build awareness of the MedCity offer to the international life sciences community.”
Deputy Mayor for Business and Innovation, Kit Malthouse said: “MedCity aims to make the London-Oxford-Cambridge life sciences ‘golden triangle’ as crucial to the economy as the financial services sector is today. San Diego is a not-to-be-missed chance to rub shoulders with investors, businesses, entrepreneurs and academics and make contacts that will allow us to create a world leading power cluster for life sciences.”
Launching the initiative in April, Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “Together with Oxford and Cambridge we form a ‘golden triangle’ of scientific innovation and we need to channel that intellectual pre-eminence into a positive impact on our economy. MedCity will span everything from research to clinical trials to manufacturing, across biotech, med tech and health tech. I am in no doubt that having the whole ‘chain’ from small spin-offs to massive companies doing their research, clinical development and manufacturing here in London and the south east can be as important to our economy as the financial services sector is today.”
MedCity has been established by the Mayor of London and King’s Health Partners, Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre and UCLPartners with links with Cambridge and Oxford. The organisation is supported by an advisory board that includes leading life sciences figures in the UK such as Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society and CEO of The Francis Crick Institute, and Professor Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, alongside successful entrepreneurs including Dr Herman Hauser and Dr Simon Kerry as well as leading political, medical, charitable and business institutions. The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has invested £2.92m in the project. This is on top of £1.2m funding confirmed by the Mayor of London’s office.
The region is home to six of the world’s best universities. Over the last 10 years employment in life sciences has increased by 21 per cent – compared to only 12 per cent on average for all employment types. The region has more than 705,900 people employed in the life sciences sector. According to fDi Markets, over the last five years (2009-13), London alone attracted 35 new foreign investment projects in the life sciences, representing more than £330m in new investment and over 1,300 new jobs. The greater South East including London attracted 76 new foreign direct investment projects, worth over £660m creating 3,300 jobs.
It is expected that the growth in the life sciences sector as a result of MedCity will lift the national economy, from business supply chain linkages to increased export earnings. It is also believed that this will help spur the discovery of new treatments to help tackle disease.
Since it was launched three months ago, MedCity has received a welcome boost with the news that Imperial College London is to build a pioneering biomedical engineering centre after received an £40 million gift from former student Michael Uren OBE and the Michael Uren Foundation. It has also been revealed that MedCity will be applying for ‘competent body’ status to ensure that the brightest and the best scientific minds from around the world are prioritised for visas and can make their discoveries in the UK. Next year the £500m Francis Crick Institute will open in London – becoming one of Europe’s major centres for biological research and innovation. The centre will focus on discovering the basic biology behind a wide range of diseases including cancer, heart disease, stroke, infections and neurodegenerative diseases. Its ambition is to achieve improvements in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and to generate new economic opportunities for the UK. Alongside the Crick is Oxford’s proposed £21m bio escalator and Cambridge’s new £212m MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology.
The San Diego BIO International Convention takes place from Monday June 23 to Thursday June 26.