Nurturing future life science leaders in the world?s greatest life science park: London. By Dr Tony Jones, Director, London Biotechnology Network
This is London
When one compares the physical area of London with many science parks internationally, it could be viewed as a large, fantastically well-stocked science park where innovation, finance and entrepreneurship all mingle on a daily basis. London is a hotbed of innovation, yet the size of its innovation sector, including its world-leading clinical and biomedical research community can appear to be a well kept secret.
Technology companies, particularly bio-pharma companies where product development and launch realistically requires global partners, choosing the right location is key to success. Those concentrated centres of excellence, finance, global connectivity and supportive commercial activity are vital. In terms of the ?Location, Location, Location? adage, London is the pre-eminent player in Europe ? and possibly the world.
London as a home to access leading-edge technology, finance, advice and labour is unquestionable given the following:
- London is home to over 200 biotechnology, medtech and life science companies.
- There are five medical schools and over 25 HEIs supporting 75 NHS hospitals and 46 private hospitals.
- £1.1bn of income is generated by London HEI health and healthcare disciplines.
- London trains 39,000 life science graduates and PhDs each year.
- It is Europe?s leading centre for clinical trials.
- Almost all of the relevant UK regulatory bodies, trade associations and eminent academic societies are HQ?ed in London.
London has more venture capital groups than the top 10 other European cities combined. It?s home to the London Stock Exchange with its suite of offerings that includes the TechMARK Mediscience index, which out-performed the FTSE All Share by 10% between January 2004 and June 2006.
Nurturing the innovators
For an aspiring research scientist or entrepreneur, the above credentials can be overwhelming in their attraction. That said, such critical mass also brings with it the challenges of how to navigate to the right advisors, partners and investors. This is where two new initiatives launched by London Biotechnology Network (LBN) in 2007, co-supported by the London Development Agency, come into play. The networking infrastructure provide by the LBN can now be viewed under the following sub-headings:
London Biotechnology Network
Established by London First in mid-2000, LBN has 2,000+ members from over 800 organisations. The core focus of LBN is to create effective business forums and communication networks that bring the London biotechnology sector together in order to:
- Share knowledge among members based on their collective experience.
- Debate key issues impacting on the future development of London?s biotechnology sector.
- Provide a focal point to attract and nurture London?s next wave of bio-entrepreneurs and innovators (see LBN Career Track below).
- Provide opportunities to bring London?s members together with other biotechnology clusters, both UK and overseas.
- To showcase London companies seeking investment to the venture capital community.
- Provide a key information portal on London?s biotechnology sector through listings of the companies, institutions, investors and professional service members of the Network on the website and within other reports.
- To disseminate information from partner organisations such as LDA, UKT&I and BIA that may be of benefit to our member companies.
- Respond to enquiries from inward investors seeking new business opportunities in London (see Key Account Managers below).
- Capitalise on the critical mass of the Network to negotiate special rate deals with suppliers such as business intelligence providers, conference organisers, journal publishers, and so on.
Activities managed by LBN that deliver on the above goals include:
- Bio-Wednesdays: Monthly networking meetings attracting approximately 200 delegates, each with a theme of relevance to our members.
- Partnering events: Targeted by region and provide an opportunity for pre-selected one-toone meetings with visiting biotechnology and pharma companies.
- Genesis Conference: Annual conference attracting in excess of 800 delegates and exhibitors from UK and further, with presentations form industry leaders, exhibition hall, Technology Showcase and online partnering facilities. Full details of the next event can be viewed at www.genesisconference.com
LBN Career Track
The enormous size and diversity of London?s science and business base, whilst presenting a very exciting opportunity for individuals, HEI?s, businesses and regional stakeholders, also presents challenges. We have launched the LBN Career Track initiative with a number of key activities in mind to address hurdles such as skills gaps, new business creation, widening participation and enhancing the Academia-Industry interface. The activties planned include:
- Bio-business taster evenings ? similar, themed networking events for the new generation. They provide a guide to career options and education about such areas as the drug discovery and development process, writing business plans, presenting and the international perspective ? topics HEIs find it hard to cover.
- Career mentoring ? leveraging one-to-one connections within the senior LBN network of business leaders where an aspiring scientist has identified their career goals.
- Recruitment ? on-line service for LBN member companies to access the members of LBN Career Track who are seeking positions in the industry.
- Careers Conference ? being delivered in London in September 2007 with the world famous Nature Publishing Group as lead partners.
Key Account Managers
Finding the right partners, property or advisor in London can be complicated due to the vast choice. To this end, LDA has funded us to pilot the Key Account Manager initiative. This will be a team of sector experts to assist client companies in finding and meeting their key contacts in London. Acting as a first port of call, the team will be able to supply information on:
- The best points of contact for technology partners
- The variety of business support services available and which is the most appropriate
- Potential partners, investors and professional
- Available laboratory and office space.
For more information,
contact Tony Jones, Director LBN, on: