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Supporting Life Sciences

London is a major bioscience hub. Dr Tony Jones, Director of Biotechnology and Healthcare at London First, looks at a new initiatives to help to succeed in the industry

London is an established world-class destination for travel, art, culture, history, fashion, fine dining and business in general. It is also widely considered as the new financial capital of the world. Perhaps, because of these, the city is less well known as a major bioscience hub. But in fact, London hosts numerous national centres of medical excellence, such as Great Ormond Street Hospital, the Institute of Neurology and the National Heart and Lung Institute, as well as headquartering most life science funding bodies.

Additionally, London is home to no less than 28 higher education institutions, 55 hospitals and trusts, and five world-renowned medical schools. The sheer scale of the London offering makes it difficult to navigate, and hence in 2007, BioGuide London was conceived.

The BioGuide London project has been running for nearly a year now. It is the first co-ordinated effort to help existing players and new entrants to the London life science scene find free relevant information and contacts they need. These may be partnering and licensing opportunities, sources of grants and finance, available facilities, scientific experts or any other life science enquiry. The BioGuide London team links in with the UKTI, Think London and other agencies to provide tailored assistance to clients.

Recently, the first edition of The BioGuide ? the definitive source on life sciences in London ? was launched at the BIO 2008 convention in San Diego. The online version is to go live in August 2008.


London is home to over 130 biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies working closely with institutions and associated organisations. It has also fostered some of the most important scientific advances in history. London continues this tradition of excellence as exemplified by its more recent accomplishments. In December 2006, the National Institute for Health Research created 11 biomedical research centres within leading NHS and university partnerships in England. The goals are to drive innovation in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and to translate research advances into patient benefits. As a result, five comprehensive and six specialist centres were chosen and of these, three and four came from London, respectively.

London is also home to 17 of the Medical Research Council?s centres, units and institutes ? more than any other city in the UK. These centres bring together the best of London?s clinicians and bench scientists to further understand mechanisms of disease; find useful biomarkers; and develop new modes of treatment.


University College London (UCL) has an extensive history of high achievement, including 20 Nobel Prizes awarded to academics and graduates. Currently there is a range of ground-breaking research happening including the work of Professor Robin Ali who is undertaking a novel Gene Therapy Trial for inherited blindness in children. Dr Julie Daniels is developing an exciting new stem cell technology for corneal transplants.

Brunel University has a reputation for first-class research in subjects ranging from engineering to education, science to health, psychology to law, sport to business. Equipment designed in Brunel?s Institute for Bioengineering (BIB) has been used on several space shuttles and the MIR space station. The BIB is also home to top-quality research into advanced bio-processing, including novel liquidliquid chromatography technology. The campus is home to the world?s largest, made-to-spec, liquidliquid chromatography extraction machine, which is housed in a purpose-built facility.

Consistently rated amongst the world?s top universities, and attracting the most financial support from industry in the UK, Imperial College London has a reputation for world-class translational research, exemplified by Professors Ravinder Maini and Marc Feldmann who have made major breakthroughs in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Being the largest medical school in Europe, Imperial has also established itself as a world-class centre for medical imaging research, with one of the largest concentrations of state-of-the-art imaging equipment in Europe.

People often forget that discovery R&D is only half of the picture en route to developing a drug. Clinical trials comprise the other important half of the process and in this London excels. Over 60% of clinical trials in Europe are done in the UK with London being the major centre for such trials at major university hospitals.

The BioGuide London project has so far produced over 50 specific briefs on particular areas of London life sciences. These are either direct with an enquirer or channelled through the inward investment agencies. The detailed information held by the BioGuide London team is used to promote the sector and shed more light into the world-class research and activities in the capital.


Details of all the companies, clinical trial centres and centres of excellence, among others, can be viewed in the new BioGuide London Directory at As well, if you have a specific enquiry, you may contact the team at .

The London Biotechnology Network (LBN) is a world-class networking hub with an extensive membership of over 2,000 individuals. Members can access contacts in all areas of the life sciences industry, plus learn about current industry challenges and trends at seminars and other special events.

For more information,
contact Dr Tony Jones on:
Tel: 020 7665 1403

Added the 10 September 2008 in category Innovation UK Vol4-1

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