On the 9th November 2016, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh officially opened the Francis Crick Institute, located at a state-of-the-art new development next to St Pancras station in London.
In construction since 2011, the £650m institute is the biggest biomedical research centre under one roof in Europe, and is bringing together scientists from across disciplines to investigate the biology underlying pressing health concerns of the 21st century, from cancer to antimicrobial resistance.
At full capacity in 2017, it will be home to 1,250 researchers, as well as 250 support staff, and will operate with an annual budget of over £130m. The Francis Crick institute is the latest addition to an already thriving pharmaceutical and biosciences sector throughout the UK, particularly in the south east. London is at the heart of the so called ‘Golden Triangle’ of medical and life sciences research, which has long linked the capital’s leading research institutions, with Oxford and Cambridge.
The addition of the Francis Crick Institute cements London’s position as one of the world’s leading hubs for research and development in the life sciences. This thriving sector is currently worth £30bn to the UK economy annually, and employs 222,000 people. According to the New York Times, approximately 20% of the world’s best-selling drugs are manufactured in the UK.
In 2014, London’s City Hall invested in creating ‘MedCity’ a biotech cluster for London that brings together corporate funding, third sector involvement and academic research to spearhead the next generation of drug development. As part of its mission statement, MedCity aims to position the south east of England as a world leading, interconnected region for life sciences research, development, manufacturing and commercialisation — with the overall aim of stimulating economic growth.
As well as its contributions to the economy, the thriving biosciences sector helps make the UK one of the world’s leading medical hubs, with some of Europe’s and the world’s foremost experts practicing both privately and in the NHS system.
With the launch of the Francis Crick Institute, the collaborative approach adopted by research institutions, the supportive policy environment provided by City Hall and the backing of corporate funding, the biosciences and pharmaceutical sectors are set to thrive even more in London and the south east.
The success of this sector has had a positive impact for many industries, including events and exhibitions. London is one of the world’s leading cities for medical and life science conferences and medical events make up one of the most lucrative segments of the market.
In the last few years, the city has played host to a number of major congresses, including ERA/EDTA (European Renal Association/European Dialysis and Transplant Association), the European Respiratory Society (ERS) congress and the European Society of Cardiology congress, which helped secure the capital’s top five position in the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) rankings.
In 2015 more than 3.7 million people travelled to London for business, spending more than £4 billion. The continued growth and investment in London as a biosciences, pharmaceutical and medical hub simply serves to make the capital an even more relevant location for medical experts to gather in the future.