London mayor Boris Johnson has given the go-ahead for a £1.1m investment in a 'Med City' designed to put the UK capital at the forefront of European medical research.
The scheme aims to set up a 'golden triangle' for life sciences research in the southeast, with the London centre linked to Oxford and Cambridge, according to deputy mayor Kit Malthouse, who said the UK needs a strong hub to stop its academic discoveries being exploited by other countries.
It is envisaged that Med City would be located in the Euston Road area of London, close by London's teaching hospitals, the main headquarters of the Wellcome Trust medical charity and the Francis Crick Institute, an academic consortium due to open its doors in 2015.
According to the minutes of a meeting of the London Assembly's Digital Creative, Science & Technology Working Group last month, the headquarters of Med City could be located within the Francis Crick Institute "to avoid unnecessary overheads".
If successful, Med City would "coordinate and lead the global promotion of London's … life sciences sector attract inward investment and make the UK's scientists and knowledge base the most accessible in the world", says the document.
The project would run along similar lines as the Tech City set up in east London a few years ago, which according to research firm UHY Hacker Young was the UK's biggest growth area for new businesses in the year to March 2013 with more than 15,000 new companies formed.
In the same vein, Med City would be set up with a pot of public money, with the preliminary objective to build a core investment organisation to help get the project of the ground and seek funding from venture capital and industrial partners, both from the UK and overseas, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
Welcoming the news, BioIndustry Association (BIA) chief executive Steve Bates said the plan "could be a powerful tool to support life sciences innovation in the UK".
"The goal for 'Med City' is closely aligned with that of the BIA: to encourage investment into life sciences and to ensure that scientific advances are exploited to deliver healthcare benefits to patients and to boost the UK economy," he added.
The Med City investment comes after a string of other positive developments for the UK's biopharma sector, including the government's decision to make a second wave of catalyst funding worth £47m to help small companies commercialise their R&D and £600m to improve the infrastructure for scientific research announced during last year's autumn budget.
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