Mayor declares London is open for scientific research and innovation

28 July 2016

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today vowed London will continue to thrive as a centre for life science research and innovation during a visit to what will be Europe’s largest biological research facility.

Sadiq Khan today (Thursday 28 July) visited the Francis Crick Institute, near St Pancras in Camden, ahead of its official opening in November when it will welcome scientists from Europe and all around the world. The £700million centre for biomedical research and life sciences will house 1,250 of the world’s best scientists from 70 different countries.

Its work is helping to understand why disease develops and to find new ways to treat, diagnose and prevent illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, infections, and neurodegenerative diseases.

London has become a major hub for life science companies and continues to be a powerhouse for scientific innovation and research, attracting and retaining leading institutions such as the Francis Crick, University College London and Imperial College, as well as having world-class Universities in Oxford and Cambridge on its doorstep.

The capital is also boosted by MedCity, an organisation launched in 2013 to drive forward life sciences research, development, entrepreneurship and commercialisation.

The Mayor today met with world-leading scientist Sir Paul Nurse, a world-renowned geneticist and cell biologist and Director of the Francis Crick Institute, to discuss the opportunities for life sciences and see first-hand how the knowledge and innovation of this cluster of world-leading research centres will continue to thrive following the European referendum result.

Sadiq is fully supportive of the Crick and its vital importance for the life sciences ecosystem in London and has made it clear, following Britain’s decision to leave the EU, that 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. The Mayor has reassured all European nationals who live in the capital that they are welcome and London is open to talent and entrepreneurship from across Europe and around the world.

Sadiq Khan said: “London remains one of the most attractive places for life science companies to do business in the world and our great city will continue to lead the way in medical research and innovation. London thrives by being open: to talent, to ideas and to people. I am absolutely determined that this will continue, and that we not only retain the world’s best scientists but continue to attract them to our world-leading cluster of medical research institutions.

“It is critical the life sciences sector is given the voice it needs through the Brexit negotiation period, and I have made clear to Government that London needs its own seat at the negotiating table, given the city’s importance both to the UK and to Europe. London is a global as well as a European city, and we will continue to forge new and deeper relationships with other countries around the world.”

Sir Paul Nurse said: “The Francis Crick Institute is truly international, with scientists and collaborators from all over the world, and we are proud of our open and diverse values, which underpin our globally leading science.

“We have a distinctive role to play within London, which is why we were so pleased to welcome the Mayor today. As well as contributing to the city’s world-leading strength in the life sciences, we will be open to the public: welcoming people into our new building for exhibitions and events; working with local schools to inspire the next generation about science; and working in close partnership with the local Somers Town community.”

Sarah Haywood, MedCity’s CEO, said: “The UK has been a powerhouse for scientific innovation for more than eight centuries and we are very confident we will continue to thrive as a centre for research and innovation. The knowledge, innovation and collaboration that has sustained our universities and medical and research facilities is not going to evaporate because of a change in the UK’s status within the EU.

“Of course, interesting times also throw up lots of opportunities and periods of change are frequently fertile times for innovation. MedCity continues its mission to ensure that the golden triangle of London, Oxford, Cambridge and the greater south east of England will thrive as a world-class centre for research, development, manufacturing and commercialisation.”

Notes to editors

1. The Francis Crick Institute (the Crick) is a research institute dedicated to discovering the fundamental biology underlying human health, with the aim of improving the treatment, diagnosis and prevention of human disease.

The Crick was formed on 1 April 2015 and is a registered charity. It is a partnership between the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK (CRUK), the Wellcome Trust, University College London (UCL), Imperial College London and King’s College London.

The institute will be a world-leading centre of biomedical research and innovation, with the scale, vision and expertise to tackle the most challenging scientific questions underpinning health and disease. It will have a strong national role, training scientists and developing ideas for public good.

From the second half of 2016, the Crick will be located in a new, purpose-built research centre in central London (next to St Pancras International), housing some 1,250 researchers and 250 support staff – making it the biggest single biomedical laboratory in Europe. The building will be completed shortly, with the first scientists moving in towards the end of August, a formal opening in November, and the institute fully operational in early 2017.

2. #LondonIsOpen will show the world that London remains entrepreneurial, international, and full of creativity and possibility, while reassuring the more than one million foreign nationals who live in London that they will always be welcome, and that any form of discrimination will not be tolerated.

The Mayor is urging all Londoners, organisations and businesses to show their support for the #LondonIsOpen message via social media, through other creative ways. The starting idea for the campaign is built around London opening its doors to welcome people in, and will encourage people to use this as a platform for their own contributions. A film of famous locations opening their doors has been produced https://youtu.be/ErLq9nir41E. To view the #LondonIsOpen campaign videos, please visit:
Doors video: https://youtu.be/ErLq9nir41E