The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson visited a groundbreaking cancer research facility in Sutton and lent his support to their proposals to transform it into the second biggest campus of its kind in the world

This supports the Mayor’s vision to promote jobs and growth in the sector through his MedCity initiative.

The Institute of Cancer Research, London (ICR) has an outstanding record of scientific achievement dating back more than 100 years and is renowned globally for discovering cancer drugs and working with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies to ensure they reach patients. Most recently, the ICR discovered and helped develop the revolutionary prostate cancer treatment abiraterone, which is transforming lives across the world.

During the Mayor’s tour, he learnt how the ICR intends to work with The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust – with the support of the London Borough of Sutton – to transform their joint site into a world-leading campus specialising in cancer research, diagnosis, treatment, education and biotech commercialisation.

He viewed the first phase of the project – the ICR’s new £20m Centre for Cancer Imaging, which in the new year will begin using state-of-the-art imaging facilities to accelerate the discovery and clinical development of new cancer drugs.

The new cancer research campus will be second only in size globally to the MD Anderson campus in Texas, America. It will provide a major boost to London’s life sciences sector. As well as 192,000 square metres of space for enterprise, research and medical facilities, there will also be space for a new secondary school specialising in life sciences. It could create 9,000 full time jobs and boost London’s economy by millions of pounds. It will also lead to increased collaboration with biotech and pharmaceutical companies by developing new incubator facilities, in order to get drugs to patients more quickly.

Earlier this year, the Mayor launched his MedCity initiative with the aim of transforming the life sciences sector in London and the greater south east into a world-leading power-cluster for research, development, enterprise and commercialisation.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: “London is already a global capital of science and the city is awash with numerous exciting research institutions. Through MedCity we want to harness this academic prowess to spur the discovery of new treatments and propel the sector so it becomes a key contributor to the capital’s growth and health. A new life sciences campus at Sutton would be a real coup for the city and underline our reputation as the place to be for game-changing science.”

Professor Paul Workman, Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: “It’s fantastic to have this opportunity to show the Mayor the pioneering work we’re doing now and discuss our plans to take our cancer drug discovery research to another level. We’re already the world’s leading university for discovering cancer drugs and by working with our hospital partner, The Royal Marsden, and the London Borough of Sutton, we hope to greatly enhance our capacity for discovery research and collaboration with industry. It’s an initiative that should have huge benefits for both cancer patients and London’s economy.”

Deputy Mayor for Business and Enterprise and the originator of MedCity, Kit Malthouse said: “The Institute of Cancer Research is globally renowned and their drugs have had enormous patient benefit for decades now. Through MedCity and the Mayor’s Office, we want to explore providing them with the space and funding to expand, allowing them to significantly accelerate the scope and pace of their drug discovery programme. London’s life science sector is thriving and needs space to grow, which is why I am keen that the NHS plays its part in releasing redundant land both here in Sutton and in other growing centres.”

Eliot Forster, Executive Chair of MedCity, said: “The Institute of Cancer Research is already a major world centre for the development and commercialisation of novel cancer therapies. Its proposals for Sutton have the potential to accelerate this important work, particularly because they are founded on bringing together all partners in the process of drug development – all the way from basic research to the patient and the market. It’s a collaborative model being pursued across the region, from the Crick Institute and Imperial West to AstraZeneca’s Global R&D Centre in Cambridge, that will hugely speed up the translation of research findings into better therapies for patients and in turn deliver greater economic growth.”

Since it was launched in April, MedCity has been at the very forefront of driving the life sciences sector in London and the greater south east. Activity includes:

Encouraging entrepreneurial activity and investment

  • The Angels in MedCity initiative to substantially increase the level of angel investment available to early stage life sciences companies with high growth potential
  • MedCity and the London Stock Exchange will host the inaugural Future of Healthcare Investor Forum in January to highlight the significant investment opportunities available to investors and venture capitalists.
  • The organisation has partnered with the Oxbridge Biotech Roundtable and SR One on OneStart – a business accelerator programme and competition aimed at biotech entrepreneurs under the age of 36.
  • MedCity has helped to establish the London Co-Investment Fund – supported by £25m from the Mayor of London and up to £60m from six private sector partners. This will help budding science start-up businesses to raise the finance they need to take their business to the next level.

Improving life sciences infrastructure in London and the South East

  • MedCity is campaigning for an International Dementia Research Institute to be built in London. Preliminary analysis shows an Institute could contribute £850m for the UK economy and create nearly 2,000 jobs.
  • Promoting London’s life sciences offer such as the £500m Francis Crick Institute, the Wellcome Trust, the new Alan Turing Institute and Imperial West.
  • In addition, it is calling for improved transport connectivity between London, Oxford and Cambridge to further integrate the life sciences cluster.
  • MedCity is supporting University College London’s creation of a new science campus at the Olympic Park.
  • MedCity is also supporting plans for major new research facilities at the Royal Free Hospital

Encouraging life sciences investment

  • Major life sciences companies continue to see the value of investing in London. Most recently, US pharmaceutical giant Merck announced that it will be investing at least £42 million in creating a new licensing hub in London, expanding research at its Hertfordshire HQ and funding clinical research in oncology and dementia.
  • Epidarex Capital, a leading international venture capital firm, has raised over £47.5 million to lead investments in early-stage life science and health technology companies, including spin-outs from leading research universities.
  • Pfizer has announced the creation of a new Gene Therapy Unit in London, to be led by King’s College London’s Professor Michael Linden

Working with other UK regions and building global links

  • MedCity is working to ensure the impact of our region’s life sciences sector can be felt across the country, and is developing relationships with the Life Sciences Hub Wales and Northern Health Science Alliance
  • The Mayor recently also met the Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick and launched a joint scheme to help hundreds of entrepreneurs and innovators to convert their high-potential ideas into high-impact businesses.
  • Next year, London’s position will be further enhanced when the city welcomes around 35,000 medical professionals as it hosts the European Society of Cardiology Congress.