Biotech London eyes

C&I Issue 10, 2007

Finding space in London to accommodate its booming biotech sector is a major problem. But help is at hand with the appointment of a team of biotech guides, tasked with the job of helping firms navigate around the UK capital’s complex life sciences sector to identify the best locations to grow or locate their businesses. Funded by the London Development Agency, and operating as part of the London Biotechnology Network, the guides will introduce clients to the relevant contacts in London and offer ongoing support.

The problem of finding affordable spaces for biotech businesses in London is a big one, said Jummy Ayodeji, senior science and technology manager at the London Development Agency. London already hosts about 100 biotech companies, together with 30 research institutes offering biomedical research, and the UK is second only to the US in terms of the size of its biotech industry. Enquiries from life sciences companies looking to grow or locate their business in London are growing, particularly after Amgen opened its new European Development Centre in the UK capital earlier this year.

But space is being freed up, according to Ayodeji. The London Bioscience Innovation Centre in north west London, for example, provides lab and office space, as well as image and business mentoring services, especially for new or growing start-ups. The Imperial Bioincubator, which opened in summer 2006, also offers access to advice from Imperial College Innovations. The Whitechapel Bioincubator is expected to open in 2008. For medium-size firms looking to grow their businesses, the London Development Agency is currently investigating opportunities, with sites around King’s Cross, north west London and around the newly created Olympic zone in east London all being considered as areas for possible future expansion.

Spending on bioscience-related research in London is over $300m annually, and with 55 hospitals, trusts and medical schools, the capital also attracts approximately 70% of all National Health Service research money. Other overseas biotech firms with sites in London include Cell Therapeutics (US), Sosei (Japan), Ingenovis (India) and Verigen (Denmark).

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