City Hall hosts summit to protect life sciences in aftermath of Brexit

23 September 2016

City Hall is today hosting a summit with some of the leading figures from London’s life sciences industry to discuss how to best protect the sector in the aftermath of the country’s decision to leave the European Union.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has vowed to protect London’s status as a world-leading hub for life science companies and a powerhouse for scientific innovation and research.

Today’s meeting will focus on the opportunities for this vitally important sector and will be attended by some of the country’s most distinguished life scientists, including Sir Paul Nurse, Chief Executive of the £700million Francis Crick Institute, which will open later this year.

Chaired by Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor for Business, the summit will look to reassure the life sciences sector that London remains open for business and that the sector remains fundamental to London’s business, research, innovation, skills and health landscape.

The meeting will also discuss the challenges posed by Brexit and what the life science sector will need from the Government’s negotiations with the EU.

Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor for Business said: “London is a global hub of scientific research and innovation and the city will always be one of the most attractive places in the world for life science companies to do business. The decision to leave the European Union does create challenges for this vital part of our economy, particularly regarding access to funding and talent. The Mayor and I will work together with the sector and champion its importance during the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.

“We want to reassure the life sciences sector that we understand their needs and will be standing up for them throughout the negotiations with the EU - making sure we get a deal that helps London to maintain its world-leading status.”

Sir Paul Nurse, Chief Executive of the Francis Crick Institute said: “The Francis Crick Institute brings together scientists from all over the world to investigate important questions about the biology underpinning human health and disease. We are determined to continue with our global approach because it is crucial for our success. The key issues for us are being able to recruit talented people from the EU as easily in the future as we do now, and being able to access EU research funding, which has been supporting high-quality British science for years. I look forward to working collaboratively to ensure a strong future for biomedical science in London and the UK as a whole.”

The capital is also boosted by MedCity, an organisation launched in 2014 to drive forward life sciences research, development, entrepreneurship and commercialisation.

Dr Eliot Forster, Chair at MedCity said: “While the UK’s decision to leave the EU has created political and economic uncertainties, I am confident that it does not change our position as a world-leading cluster for life sciences research and development. We continue to have outstanding research centres, a rich research ecosystem, globally recognised universities and hospitals and access to fantastic talent.

“The Government has long backed science innovation, and with emerging strengths in areas such as gene therapy and digital health, it’s vital the industry works together to ensure it remains an attractive location for collaborators and investors.”

The meeting will also assure the life sciences community that the Mayor believes negotiating a form of access to the single market is crucial. He has been pushing the Government to ensure this is the cornerstone of negotiations with the EU and continues to press for a seat for London at the Brexit negotiating table.

The life sciences industry is dependent on having access to the world’s best talent. Rajesh Agrawal will reiterate the Mayor’s reassurance that all European nationals who live in the capital are welcome and London is open to talent and entrepreneurship from across Europe and around the world.

The capital’s life sciences sector will be further enhanced later this year when the Francis Crick Institute opens in Camden. The £700million centre for biomedical research and life sciences will house 1,250 of the world’s best scientists from 70 different countries.

Notes to editors

About MedCity

Established as a partnership between the Mayor of London and the capital’s three Academic Health Science Centres - Imperial College Academic Health Centre, King’s Health Partners, and UCL Partners - MedCity is a unique collaboration that brings together the outstanding life sciences strengths of London and the greater south east. Over the next 20 years, MedCity will position the region as a world-leading, interconnected hub for research, development, manufacturing and commercialisation by championing collaboration and entrepreneurship, promoting a joined up and globally distinct life sciences offer, and providing a visible ‘go-to’ point for industry and investors.